Randy Wetmore, who announced his May 31 wrap-up as Statesboro’s city manager as a retirement, has been selected by the mayor and council in Bridgeport, West Virginia, to be city manager in that town of about 8,700 residents beginning Aug. 1.
Television station WDTV in West Virginia reported the decision from a Bridgeport City Council meeting Monday and gave his expected start date as July 1, with a contract still to be finalized. Phoned at home in Statesboro on Tuesday, Wetmore confirmed that he is accepting the job but said he will begin work Aug. 1.
“You know things just happen in life and you deal with them and you think you’ve made a decision, and life’s an adventure for me and for my wife, and this will be the tenth city in the seventh state,” Wetmore said. “And you know, I thought I was going to retire, but this thing came open and I think I can still contribute, and I’m looking forward to the new challenge.”
He and his wife, Andrea, have been Statesboro residents since 2016. He officially started as city manager that Sept. 1. They came here from Marshalltown, Iowa, where he was city manager 2010-2016.
Wetmore, now 64, has worked in management roles for nine city governments in six states over the past 40 years. He is originally from Kansas.
Last autumn, Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar announced a new contract with Wetmore for the first five months of this year.
“Let it be recognized that we’ve made an addendum to our city manager’s contract, which will expire on May 31, 2019, that will include a 32-hour work week and an additional 80 hours paid vacation to begin in the 2019 calendar year,” McCollar said after a closed session during the Nov. 20, 2018, regular council meeting.
Council members then voted 5-0 approval without comment. Only after that meeting did Wetmore announce that May 31 would be his retirement date.
His previous contract would not have expired Dec. 31 or May 31. In fact, it had no expiration date, providing instead that he had to give a 45-day notice or, if the mayor and council cancelled the contract without cause, they had to award him six months’ severance pay.
In a November interview, McCollar said that Wetmore, not the mayor and council, had initiated the change leading to his departure.
After a search conducted with the help of a consulting firm, Statesboro City Council in early May hired Charles W. Penny to be Statesboro’s new city manager beginning July 1. He has 35 years of experience working for city governments in North Carolina, most recently in Rocky Mount, where he retired as city manager in 2017.
By a more recent council choice, Jason Boyles is serving as Statesboro’s interim city manager during June. The city’s director of public works and engineering, Boyles was already one of two department heads appointed by Wetmore in December as interim assistant city managers.
In population, Bridgeport is about one-third the size of Statesboro, which has about 31,600 residents according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s July 2018 estimate. One thing that interested Wetmore about Bridgeport is that the city in north-central West Virginia is starting construction of a $37 million regional recreation center, he said.
“They just started moving dirt on a phase last month, and it was really intriguing that a city of 8,500 would undertake a project like that,” Wetmore said. “So that was something that kind of piqued my interest from a professional standpoint, and then it cuts our drive to both of our kids just about in half.”
The Wetmores have an adult daughter in Virginia, and an adult son, daughter-in-law and two young grandchildren in Indiana.
Here, Wetmore served on the Statesboro Family YMCA board the past two years and has been its chairman since March.
The Bridgeport News newspaper reported last week that the council there interviewed four candidates for city manager the previous Friday, May 31. Bridgeport’s mayor had said there were originally about 16 candidates, WDTV reported.
Bridgeport City Council in January voted not to renew the contract of the previous city manager, Kim Haws, who had served in that role for 20 years.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.