The Kingfisher Chamber of Commerce hosted a “Meet the Manager” open forum tonight (Wednesday, November 15th) at the Kingfisher County Fairgrounds for the business leaders in our community to meet Jim Thomas.  Jim came on board as the new Kingfisher City Manager in July and has been making the rounds to the civic groups getting to know the residents of Kingfisher. Tonight’s meeting was an open forum where he laid out some of his plans for the city and answered questions about what can the City do better, How can the City better implement Economic Development, and how to begin to develop a city-wide strategic plan. 

About 35 business leaders, school employees and elected officials attended the meeting.

Jim started the meeting by talking about where he came from, a small town in Maine, and how he got into politics at the beginning of his career.  Jim had a long career as a city manager at various cities around the country before he retired.  After enjoying retirement for a few years he got itchy to be back in the business.  He got wind of the job opening in Kingfisher applied, and started on July 8th. This is the smallest town he has managed, Jim said, “Folks are friendly, kind courteous, and have been very welcoming.” 

He has been here for 130 days and some of his observations include: that there is a lack of economic development. The infrastructure is very aged, and the power system, and utilities all need work.  He also addressed the need for affordable housing for first-time home buyers. 

Several asked about the electric issues, Jim told the group this was one of the top issues on his agenda. One person in the audience stated that he was considering moving his business because of unreliable electric service. 

There was a conversation about the lack of a performing arts center. A member of the Community Collaborative group stated that right now their only option is the stage at the elementary school. She said the lighting is poor and they are limited to the school schedule. 

Jim asked the audience “What’s up with the Pool?” That triggered a conversation about the lack of maintenance, climate control, and programs. One member of the audience said everyone goes to Hennessey or Okarche pools because they are better. Jim said they will need to do something about this because the pool currently costs the City $370,000 per year to operate and there are only 7 members.  

Jim closed with “It’s a new day in Kingfisher” 

Starting November 28th and 29th he will start a series of planning meetings to address many of these topics. To learn about Jim watch the All About Kingfisher Show on AllAboutKingfisher.com.  Photos and story by Jack Quirk.