By RUSSELL HUFFMAN
After several months of searching for a new city administrator the Stephenville City Council has focused on interim city administrator Pat Bridges as the best choice. Following an executive session Tuesday night, the council voted by an 8-1 margin to begin negotiations to make Bridges’ new position a permanent one.
Local resident and attorney Shelby Slawson may have summed up the general feeling among those in the audience when she stepped up to the podium and said, “We think you already got it right!” She went on to say it was time for the council “to close the deal.”
Stephenville Builder’s Association president Rick Hale echoed Slawson’s sentiments as everyone who approached the podium during the citizen’s input had nothing but positive statements and recommendations to hire Bridges.
Councilman Boyd Waggoner was the lone holdout, citing the city’s history of “inexperienced hires” and recommending the council look at potential candidates whose experience lies in city administration rather than law enforcement.
Bridges was asked by the council to assume the position on an interim basis after the dismissal of Mark Kaiser. Since then he has created what was referred to as a “positive atmosphere” at city hall. It was also said people got the feeling “the doors are now open.”
The council had an original group of 31 applicants for the position and, until recently, it appeared either Shawna Burkhart, the former Converse city administrator, and former Fate city manager Philip Rodriquez were the frontrunners for the position.
Bridges said he was glad the process was almost finished and is excited about taking the city down the path the council is wanting to head.
With Bridges set to assume the city administrator duties, the council now has to focus on his old position as police chief. Jason King has acted as the interim chief during Bridges’ tenure at city hall and is considered to be a strong candidate as the full-time replacement.
The council is also focusing on economic development, and the public is invited to a special council meeting on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., which will be held at Fire Station No. 2, across the Northwest Loop from Wolf Nursery Road.
The meeting is to go over a 13-part plan the city must take to build an economic development structure. Mayor Kenny Weldon emphasized the plan does not lean one way or the other toward a Type A or B plan or a proposed rate, but just what will be needed to get either plan up and running.
*Noteable — Councilman Boyd Waggoner had a first for Stephenville as he attended Tuesday night’s meeting via a video teleconference where he was able to hear and comment. He was later “carried” via laptop into the council’s executive session.