By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
Fairview City Council met in a special meeting Tuesday to hire a new city manager.
Garfield County native Paul Southwick will step in Jan. 1, 2013, to replace current Fairview City Manager Dale Sides, who is scheduled to retire at the end of the year.
Southwick graduated from Garber High School and attended Rose State College and Southwestern Oklahoma State University, before embarking on his career in public administration.
Southwick’s past work experience includes almost 16 years of service as manager of the Hunter Rural Water District, eight years on the Garber City Council, five years’ service as Garber public works director and five years as a conductor for BNSF.
Southwick currently is the city manager for Mangum, in Greer County, where he has served since early 2010.
Fairview Vice Mayor Vernon Hoehn said Southwick was selected for the job after a lengthy search process, that attracted applicants from as far away as Vermont and Washington.
Hoehn said the quality and range of experience of the applicants “was amazing.”
“We had them from 25 years of experience and a master’s degree, down to a few who had just graduated with a bachelor’s degree and no experience,” Hoehn said.
Twenty-nine applicants were screened and narrowed to a pool of 10 that were presented to the full city council. After a vetting process, four applicants, including Southwick, were called in for the final interview process.
Hoehn said Southwick’s qualifications earned him a spot in the final four, and his interview quickly drove him to the top.
“When he came up and we actually did the interview it was fantastic,” Hoehn said. “The more we interviewed him and talked with him, the more we liked him. He’s going to be a good fit for the town.”
Fairview Mayor Garen Martens said Southwick’s past experience in managing infrastructure projects makes him an ideal selection to meet the city’s needs.
“He has a lot of experience and drive, and we believe he has some intensity and some desire to see things move ahead,” Martens said of Southwick.
Martens said addressing Fairview’s aging water supply system will be a top priority in Southwick’s early tenure.
“He has a lot of experience in water systems, and of course our system is getting pretty old,” Martens said. “We need to do a lot of work on that.
“Making sure your water future is secure is essential, and that’s something very important for us to keep looking at.”
Southwick said he is looking forward to moving to Fairview, where he will be closer to family in Enid and to his farm near Fairmont.
He said Fairview’s school system also was a draw. He and his wife Michelle will enroll their children, 16-year-old son Baylor, 17-year-old daughter Danielle and 4-year-old son Cord, after moving to Fairview in January.
Southwick said he is looking forward to working for and with the Fairview community.
“The community seems very progressive and I think they’re civic-minded and innovative,” Southwick said. “They seem to be very forward-thinking, and you can tell that from the city itself, its businesses and its people. Fairview has a lot to offer for a city its size, and it’s a great community.”
Sides said he doesn’t have any set plans after his retirement in January, but he is planning to stay in Fairview.
“I like Fairview, and I’m proud of our accomplishments and where we are today,” Sides said. “I have enjoyed my time here and enjoyed the people.”