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By CHARLES RICHARDS
Larry Wright, the city manager’s designee as Paris’ next fire chief, is expected to be at tonight’s meeting of the Paris City Council.
But his appointment by manager John Godwin won’t be affirmed by the council for a couple more weeks – instead of tonight, as the city manager had hoped.
“I had it taken off,” mayor AJ Hashmi said Sunday. “It needed to be posted as a job opportunity for anyone who might be interested in the job, whether from the city of Paris or anywhere else.”
The position was posted on Tuesday of last week. Applicants were given one week to submit their resumes.
According to the city’s policy, all non-managerial jobs must be posted, Godwin said.
“You typically would post a managerial job. It kind of depends on the job and situation. In this case, I recruited somebody to apply,” the manager said.
Godwin said he received “three or four” resumes after posting the position “and a couple of them are pretty good people.”
He added: “But, you know, none of them have the experience that Larry Wright has, as far as years of experience and so forth. His skill set is really great. He’s got a super strong resume.”
The City Charter gives the city manager the right to hire or fire employees, but the city council has to sign off on new hires of department heads. At its Oct. 15 meeting, council members said across the board they would go along with Godwin’s recommendation.
The manager said his recommendation will be on the agenda for the council’s next regular meeting on Nov. 16.
“I have a real good feeling about this guy (Wright), but I am looking at the resumes that have come in. I didn’t want to just pretend I was looking at them,” Godwin said Friday.
The manager said Wright was in town Thursday and met with a couple of council members.
“He’s a personable guy, real knowledgeable. He’s already been in town a lot. He’s spent a lot of time at the fire station,” Godwin said. “He’s been to all the stations andhas met well over half the staff already. He’s gung-ho and real excited about it. He wants to come in here and make a positive difference.”
Godwin said Wright told him people have welcomed him “with open arms.”
“He mentioned how friendly everyone was, how nice everybody was, and his wife was with him, too. She came up with him on the trip. Like me, they really like the place.”
Godwin also recruited a person for a new position of planning director – Alan Efrussy, who is now planning director at Fairview, where Godwin was town manager before taking the Paris city manager’s job in May.
It wasn’t posted, either. Godwin said this job is different than the fire chief position because Efrussy will not actually be a city employee.
“We’ll treat him like an employee, and he will be answerable as if he were, but he’ll actually be a part-time contract employee, working two or three days a week,” Godwin said.
Efrussy’s last day in Fairview is Nov. 30. He will begin work in Paris on Dec. 10.
“He’s got 40 or 50 years’ experience. He’s like the dean of planning in this area and is very well-known in the business, so you know, getting him in here for a couple of days a week is a real coup for us,” Godwin said of Efrussy, who is 72.
“Most people who would be available don’t have his experience. Most people retire nowadays earlier than 70.”
Godwin said he has “a couple of years’ worth of things” for Efrussy to do once he gets here.
“He will be responsible for developing a master plan and development of a master thoroughfare plan, and he’ll help with the parks plan,” Godwin said.
“He’ll do a lot of long-term planning, and hopefully come up with a different way of looking at downtown, or the loop, the airport, Lake Crook – just things like that.
Charles Richards Charles Richards moved to Paris in 2004 after retiring from a 40-year career in journalism – the last 26 years as a news writer and sports writer with The Associated Press in Dallas and Washington, D.C. In mid-2004, The Paris News coaxed him out of retirement, and he began covering the police, court and regional beat for The Paris News. Then in early 2005, he was switched to coverage of a sharply divided Paris City Council. He was appointed by the City Council in 2006 to the 12-member City Charter Review Commission, which extensively rewrote the outmoded document. His writing awards include two first-place awards in statewide competition for feature writing. The most recent was his 2005 story on a Paris doctor’s startling use of leeches in a successful attempt to re-attach a man’s severed ear. Over his career, Richards’ interview subjects include Alabama Gov. George Wallace, President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, David Koresh, Arnold Palmer, Muhammad Ali and numerous other political and sports figures. He is an alumnus of Texas Tech, where he was editor of the school newspaper. He lives in Paris with his wife, Barbara, who is retired after 30 years as a teacher and high school counselor.
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