Conference table

MINERAL WELLS — The new year will see the Mineral Wells city council kick its search for a city manager into a higher gear.

Starting Tuesday, the elected officials begin a series of weekly closed sessions with its hired search firm, Strategic Government Resources, to cull through resumes, view video responses to candidate questions and eventually set up live interviews.

“This kind of keeps the process moving,” Mayor Regan Johnson said of the schedule. “It keeps us on track. … We’ve had applications come in — maybe 20. We’ve had some from out of state but I think the majority of them are from in-state.”

SGR is the same firm that found former City Manager Randy Criswell nearly three years ago.

The mayor said she and the council don’t have a strict timeline for finding the city’s new chief administrator, preferring to do the job well the first time.

“I think we’re more focused on finding the right person,” she said. “Would I like that to be sooner than later? Sure, but we are going to fill that position with the right person. We realize the gravity of the decision.”

Johnson said she didn’t know if Interim City Manager Dean Sullivan, the city’s police chief, is among applicants. But she said the job Sullivan has done since Criswell left frees the council to focus on its goal without rushing.

She also said Criswell left “excellent notes” when he departed on Nov. 12 for a similar job in Wolfforth on the Texas South Plains.

“He spent a good bit of the last couple of weeks making sure we had a status update” on city projects, she said.

Those projects include an ongoing master streetscape job renewing or replacing downtown sidewalks, roads and the infrastructure beneath them. The city also is replacing playground equipment and installing restrooms at Southeast Park with plans to focus next on West City Park.

The city also has encouraged both the recent renovation and reopening of the Crazy Water Hotel, as well as coordinating with a private partnership renovating the long-shuttered Baker Hotel, both downtown.

City Hall also is focused on making sure the water treatment plant at Lake Palo Pinto Creek will be up to processing nearly double the water load once its sister lake, Turkey Creek Reservoir, fills in a few years.

With all that going on, and more, Johnson said her eventual choice to succeed Criswell will have solid communication skills.

“Communication is going to be key,” she said. “With all the things we have going on, that’s going to be a top thing I’m looking for.”

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