Mannford's new city manager settling in, taking stock of issues

Mike Nunneley

After an extensive search, Mannford has selected Mike Nunneley as its city manager.

The position opened after Jim Whitlock left for Collinsville following three years in Mannford.

Nunneley was the first-ever town administrator in Granite, a position he held for five years.

Before that, he spent 10 years as a banker and eight years as a teacher.

One of the major similarities between Granite and Mannford is that they are two of only nine cities in the state that own the town's electric and gas utilities.

"I think my experience in gas purchasing and systems will be an asset to Mannford," Nunneley said, during a recent telephone interview. "Also, I understand the small-town atmosphere of employees working together. It's important for us to be a part of the community."

Once Nunneley gets situated, he's going to start working on a number of issues regarding the gas and water systems, and roads.

"I really need to get settled in and see where we're sitting with plans and finances and see what we can do to correct some of these issues," he said.

From his initial observations, Nunneley said none of the systems appear to be in bad shape or beyond repair.

"They didn't get broke overnight and they won't get fixed overnight. Getting a plan and prioritizing are the most important things," he said. "Since I haven't had a lot of time to look over everything, I don't know what will happen first. I'll know more in two weeks."

Mannford is twice the size of Granite and is more of a tourist location, primarily because of Keystone Lake, something that Nunneley thinks can lead to substantial growth.

"I think there's a lot of upside right there. I think Mannford has a really good location and if we're fairly aggressive, I think it can grow quite a bit in the next five to 10 years," he said. "Any growth helps and when you're selling your own utilities, it helps a lot."

One of Nunneley's major accomplishments was keeping Granite's utility rates among the lowest in the state for the last three years.

"We were able to combine utilities and had a large reserve of funds," he said. "It's always an accomplishment when you can keep utility rates low. It makes it advantageous to people interested in moving in."

A fire station, park and road improvements and a new water treatment plant were also completed during Nunneley's tenure in Granite.

Most of the projects were funded by grant money, including 75 percent of the water treatment plant.

"If you can acquire those grants, it's just free money. That allows you to do things without having to sell bonds or raise rates," he said. "I did all the grant writing. In a town that size, that's what an administrator does. I plan on doing the same thing in Mannford."

Nunneley wants to buy a house in Mannford and relocate his family as soon as possible.

He believes it's important for city employees to live in the town they represent.

"If you're not a part of the community, then how can you expect people to buy in if you're not paying the utilities too," he said.

"If you're not a member of a civic club, how can you ask them for assistance. City employees are not above the other citizens. They're just a citizen that works for the city."