CLYDE – Clyde City Council didn’t have to look far to find a new City Manager after the current one City manager Paul Fiser announced earlier this year that he would be retiring work in April.
Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to hire Justin LaBenne, who has served as the city’s IT administrator since 2007.
The new job comes with a salary of $100,000 a year, a city vehicle and longevity pay, plus five weeks vacation, according to the ordinance passed on an emergency basis by the council.
After the vote, Councilman Steve Keegan said, “I think we picked the right person.”
Doug McCauley, also a board member, said, “We’ve had 26 years of stability with Mr. Fiser and Mr. (Dan) Weaver.” Weaver served as city manager before Fiser was hired.
The councilman went on to say that change is coming to the city and change is inevitable.
“We are not replacing Paul Fiser. We are replacing the position.”
Board Chairman Brent Stanley, along with other board members, thanked Fiser for his service and the work he had done for Clyde. “Paul, we appreciate your service to the city,” Stanley said.
“We appreciate the candidates who have applied,” added Stanley. Eleven candidates applied for the position and the board conducted interviews during three special sessions over the past few weeks.
Fiser told the board he had done his best for Clyde. He added that he was completing his 31st year as a public servant.
Until his retirement date, Fiser said he would work for a smooth transition with LaBenne. “We’ve been getting along fabulously for 12 years.”
Stanley said the city council had done their due diligence in their search for a new city manager. He said that all of the candidates were good candidates and that they had chosen the best to lead the city in the direction the council wanted the city to go.
The new city manager wants more dynamism in the city center
After the board meeting, LaBenne said the city would look to fill the computer position in the future. He said he would assume his current position and train with Fiser in the coming weeks.
LaBenne has academic experience at Owens Community College, Terra State Community College, where he was an adjunct professor from 2005-2007, and Eaton University. He also worked in software development at Capitol Aluminum and Glass from 2006 to 2014.
The city manager-elect also owns two small businesses – Iron and Sour, LLC and North Coast Technology Group, LLC. He is currently president of the Clyde Heritage League and a board member of the Clyde Business and Professional Association.
As for taking the city in a new direction, LaBenne said, “I’m definitely going to push for the vibrancy of downtown.”
In the coming year, he intends to complete the Paden Lane project, a redesign of the driveway beside the South Main Street Heritage Hall, which will include a new mural. This project will be funded by grants. He also plans to carry out other projects downtown in the years to come.
Clyde Fire looking to host NOVFA 2023 convention
Also at the board meeting, members voted to have an endorsement letter created to support the Clyde Firefighters Association in its attempt to bring the 2023 Northwestern Ohio Volunteer Firefighters Association (NOVFA) convention to Clyde.
Firefighter Rick Greiner told the council that the local fire department will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2023 and wanted to host the NOVFA convention in its anniversary year. The Clyde Fire Department will present its request at a NOVFA meeting in April with the support of the council. The last convention held in Clyde was in 2003. Greiner said the events are smaller now than they were 20 years ago. The 2023 convention would include two parades, camping, a queen pageant and a waterball. He said the two-day event would draw 800 to 900 people to the community.