By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
EXETER – After six months of searching, and a series of exhaustive interviews, the Exeter City Council has decided to offer Visalia Public Works director Adam Ennis, the position of city manager.
Since the beginning of January, when former Exeter city manager Randy Groom relocated to Visalia, former Visalia finance director Eric Frost had been serving as city manager on an interim basis. Now, according to Ennis, he’ll be sworn in during the City’s June 26 meeting and begin to settle into the city manager’s chair the next day.
Jumping into the job before the end of the month shouldn’t be too much of a shock for Ennis, after all he is familiar with the town.
A native of Exeter, he was born in the Exeter hospital and graduated Exeter High School in the class of 1983. His dad is from Exeter and his mother was an early transplant, and graduated from Exeter High School as well. Ennis says being from town made the position all the more attractive.
“I’ve got a back ground in Exeter so from that point it was just a good fit all around.”
Aside from being a good fit, Ennis felt it was just good timing. Ennis’ background in public works plays particularly well with the challenges the City of Exeter is currently facing. Over the next few years Exeter’s public works department is anticipated to be under siege between fixing aging water infrastructure and maintaining the city’s streets. Ennis has spent the last six years as public works director for Visalia, but has spent a combined 14 years with Visalia starting in the community development department as an engineer. Before he began his public service career he had cut his teeth in the private sector as an engineer with Forester, Webber & Associates for six years.
“Over the next few years [Exeter] needs some help with their public works department. So that was a good fit and it just made sense,” Ennis said.
Evidently, Frost feels as if Ennis’ entrance into the City is timely for the same reason.
“The city council has identified a number of water, road and sewer projects that need the City’s attention. Who better to lead the City forward than a civil engineer like Adam Ennis,” Frost said.
In addition to Ennis’ background in public works council member Jeremy Petty says bringing Ennis into the fold of the City’s administration rounds out the recent rebuild of administrators. In the last year alone Randy Groom, former city clerk Sandi Guillen, former finance director Sheri Emerson, former police chief Cliff Bush and former community development director Felix Ortiz all retired or departed for other reasons.
“Adam being a civil engineer and leveraging his experience with City of Visalia will be an asset to our community,” Petty said. “In the last year we have hired a new personnel officer, finance director, police chief and now city administrator. I truly believe our team is going to take Exeter to the next level of efficiency.”
In Exeter’s rebuild it is hard to ignore the overwhelming transplant of Visalia administrators. In all, Frost came in on an interim city manager basis having last worked as Visalia’s finance director, current finance director Chris Tavarez was also a part of Visalia’s administration and now Ennis.
And while Randy Groom will be losing his public works director in Visalia he knows the move is best for not only Ennis but both of the cities.
“It’s not exactly a secret that the Cities of Visalia and Exeter have been trading staff talent back and forth quite a bit in the past year or so,” Groom said. “We have consciously discussed this sharing of staff, and both agencies see it as a positive and healthy environment. We want to grow talented employees locally, and keep them local.”
Groom added that just because Ennis is moving does not mean their professional relationship is over. Instead it will just be different and likely mutually beneficial.
“On a personal level, Adam has many qualities that I think will make him a good fit in Exeter,” Groom said. “I look forward to continuing to work with him in his new role, and I continue to have a genuine fondness for the people of Exeter and the community as a whole.”