After two months with an interim city manager at the helm, Healdton is close to finding someone to fill the role permanently.
Water plant manager Brian Scribner has been serving as interim city manager since former city manager Lane Jones resigned earlier this year. Scribner started working for the city in 1981 and has continued on for 37 years, mostly at the water department. He said he’s filled in as interim city manager before during transition periods four or five times.
‘I did it for nine months one time, I did it for two months,” Scribner said. “This time looks like it will be about a two-month one.”
Scribner said the city council has finished the first round of interviews and are seriously considering two of the candidates.
“They were trying to find someone with previous city manager experience,” Scribner said. “They’re kind of hard to find, so they’re wanting someone with a financial background. Just about everyone who has applied with us has been in city government in some capacity.”
The decision will come just as the city works to fix insufficient water pressure in its southwest sector, which the city plans to address by building a water tower on Lincoln Street.
“About half the town will be affected by that,” Scribner said. “And then we’ll have the issue of what the water lines might do when we do that.”
Scribner said the city has been working with the Department of Environmental Quality for roughly six years to fix the issue.
“We’ve been trying to work on getting it funded, it has been funded now,” Scribner said. “We’ll probably only have to pay about $5,000 that we’ll have to take care of ourselves.”
The city plans to fund the project through a collection of grants. The final piece, a community development block grant from the Southern Oklahoma Development Association, was just secured.
“It’s been a long process, but I think we’re finally getting to the end of it,” Scriber said.
Another long process is in its final stages as well. The Healdton Industrial Authority started the process of dissolving itself in 2016, but is now close to completing to process.
Scribner said the authority started as a way to assist Healdton residents trying to start businesses.
“It was pretty much a bank account for several years,” Scribner said.
Eventually the authority expanded and hired staff to try to attract businesses to come to Healdton. The authority started using inmate workers to do maintenance and yard work around the city.
“It kind of took its own form from there,” Scribner said.
The city eventually created a board to govern the HIA, which existed in that form for over a decade before the tax that funded it failed to pass in a 2016 citywide election. By that time, the HIA was working independently from the city, owned property and was leasing facilities to the city.
“It’s not completely dissolved yet,” Scribner said. “Their tax wasn’t passed so they really don’t have an income coming into it.”
HIA still has audits that need to be approved by the state. Herb Collier, the board’s former general manager, said the process has gone on longer than anticipated due to sheer bad luck.
“It’s been Murphy’s Law,” Collier said. “The board is ready for this to finish.”