GALLIPOLIS — Serving roughly three and a half years as Gallipolis’ city manager, Gene Greene, after the Gallipolis City Commission meeting Tuesday, said that he would be resigning from his position once an acceptable successor was found.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks,” said Greene. “Back on Feb. 21, I had open heart surgery. It seems like a lot of things (medically) are a roller coaster (for Greene)…They (his healthcare professionals) suggested to me that I get out and relax for a while. It’s probably time. I told (the commission) they’d be doing me a favor if they went ahead and found somebody else and let them come in and run this thing…I enjoy the job and I’m proud of the accomplishments we’ve got, especially the (new Gallipolis Public Use Area waterfront). We’ve got a list since I’ve been here and it’s been a good run for the city.”
Greene said he felt the city’s administration had helped the budget over his time in office and while it may not be where he’d like it to be, he felt it was recovering slightly.
“Its taken us a long time coming into problems and it’s going to be a long time before we get out,” said Greene of the drug epidemic and city financial woes. “But we have some of the best people you could think of. Our department heads are great and they have been amazing with the little they have along with our employees. They have and will continue to do excellent jobs. They know their job and do their job. I have all the confidence in the world of city employees. They take a lot of pride in their work… The budget was really thin when I came here and it’s not good now but it’s better than it was.”
“What I’m most proud of I think is we didn’t borrow any money and we paid off a lot of loans,” said Greene. “And we haven’t borrowed money to buy stuff (such as police or city maintenance equipment).”
Greene thanked those who contributed to assisting the city in its never-ending searches for grants and those who volunteered time to make it a better place to live. He thanked county agencies for their collaboration with the city as well as the city commissioners and state officials.
“It’s been a good run and I’ve enjoyed it but I think my health is a bit more important than doing what I’m doing now,” said Greene. “The city does still have bigger projects out there hanging like the bandstand (rehabilitation), the Kerr fountain and other projects. I’d like to see those started before I leave. I don’t want to leave them in a bad way…Even if the commission finds somebody new to come in, I told the commission I’d be more than willing to stick around and help them get through it. Once they get their feet on the ground, I’ll step away. We’re parting on good terms. It’s time to let somebody else do it.”
Among Greene’s administration’s legacy includes a nearly million dollar completion of the new Gallipolis waterfront and amphitheater along with the roughly $8.4 million addition of new waste water treatment facilities that serve Gallipolis and nearby townships as part of negotiations with county government.
“I think the city needs someone who can stay here in this office and deal with the public and watch the budget and make sure they’re not overspending and make sure you have the right equipment,” said Greene. “You need someone who’s also out there on the street and the sidewalk making sure the infrastructure is getting fixed and taken care of. Keeping the communication line between the public and the city manager open, that’s very important…I’ve had people come into my office with a problem and you do the best you can to help them out or to understand why the city can’t. Sometimes it’s a matter of property lines or sometimes the city just doesn’t have the money. It might not have solved everything, but it’s important to help people understand what’s going on and help where you can.”
Greene said he felt the efforts he concentrated hardest in providing services for residents were focused in first response and city maintenance. He emphasized the importance of keeping an eye out for grant dollars with state financial cuts to small municipalities like Gallipolis.
“You may think the community is separated at times, but when the going gets tough the city actually comes together and will work together,” said Greene. “The City Park, I played in when I was a kid and at one time used to chase squirrels in the park. I’ve always had a soft place in my heart for it and I think it’s like the jewel of the city. It attracts a lot of people and you can tell that by driving by in the evening and seeing every swing and seat full. I feel town is starting to grow a little bit.”
Greene started working for the city in the 1970s as a water meter reader before becoming a maintenance superintendent. He also served in the military during the Vietnam War as a combat engineer. Before returning to city work, Greene worked at the Kyger Creek Power Plant for 33 years. After the resignation of Randy Finney as the previous city manager, Greene was named interim city manager in October 2014 before being confirmed as city manager the following year.
“I think the city, once it gets in your blood it’s in your blood and you never get rid of it, especially if you care anything about your city,” said Greene.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.