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Mark Watson next city manager for Oak Ridge, Tenn.
[July 17, 2010]

Mark Watson next city manager for Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Jul 17, 2010 (The Sun - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Mark S. Watson, Yuma's former city administrator, has been hired as Oak Ridge, Tenn.'s next city manager.

In a special meeting Thursday, the Oak Ridge City Council voted 7-0 to appoint Watson to a three-year term beginning Aug. 9 at an annual salary of $131,997, the Oak Ridger reported.

"I'm genuinely pleased," the newspaper quoted Oak Ridge City Councilman Tom Hayes. "I hope we can kick-start the city on an upward spiral." Watson told the Yuma Sun Friday that he has agreed to take the position and is looking forward to the opportunities there.

"There will be a whole new dimension of things to work on. Something new and exciting. And folks there seem warm and welcoming." He said what he is looking forward to the most is that Oak Ridge has a strong organization and the council "wants a manager to lead that organization to accomplish the goals they have." Those goals include finalizing a vision for the city's future, increasing retail, economic development, housing improvements and coordinating with the many federal agencies that have a presence in the area, among them the U.S. Department of Energy and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

But there's a lot to do between now and Aug. 9, Watson noted.

His wife, Jenna, has some obligations as an art teacher at Desert Mesa Elementary School. And the couple have a house to sell.

For now, he's been busy cleaning out the closets and garages, Watson said. "I'm on a first-name basis with the Salvation Army thrift store." As for leaving Yuma, Watson said he feels he made a positive impact on the community in the five years he was the administrator. There is more shopping, the riverfront redevelopment effort has become a reality and the city received federal stimulus money for the 16th Street improvement project that now is under way.

He also noted with pride the Stewart Vincent Wolfe Memorial Playground at the West Wetlands that the community came together to build and which he hopes will continue to take care of.

Watson also had praise for his staff in Yuma. "The city staff is the best team I've had in 30 years in pubic management." Watson, who has a master's degree in public administration, managed cities in Texas and Montana before coming to Yuma in early 2005. He resigned as Yuma's city administrator in March.

The agreement approved by the Oak Ridge council Thursday requires Watson to live in the city, and it provides him with an automobile and cellular or digital telephone for business or personal use, the Oak Ridger reported.

It will cover his family's moving expenses from Yuma and have the city pay "the reasonable costs" of a visit to Oak Ridge by Watson and his wife so they can find a home.

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