By unanimous vote of the Newport City Council, the current city manager of Sault St. Marie, MI has been chosen to take over the same job in Newport.
Spencer Nebel, a 31 year veteran of city management, and 21 years at the helm of Sault Saint Marie, Michigan, population 14,400, is expected to begin filling a long ailing position with the city which, by many estimations, has been floundering. The opening came with the recent resignation of Jim Voetberg who took a management position with a sewer and water district in suburban Seattle.
Nebel is married and has family in Keizer. He said that he and his wife Angela have long wanted to move to Oregon to be closer to those family members who moved here from Michigan.
Nebel was the favorite candidate among the public at a meet-and-greet session with the public Thursday night, with most, if not all, city department heads, and now with the city council – the vote that really counts.
City councilors said the position of Newport city manager has not been stable for a number of years and that department heads and city workers said stability is absolutely required if the city is to continue moving forward with a number of major challenges, including sewer, water and storm drain upgrades.
After the final interviews, Nebel got out of his business suit and headed back to Keizer with his wife Angela.
After deliberating over three candidates, Nebel quickly rose to the top and by a unanimous vote they picked him to be Newport’s new city manager – subject of course to salary and moving expense negotiations, more personal reference checks and criminal background check. Mayor Roumagoux and the council said they wanted the process to be thoroughly transparent.
A very pleased Mayor Roumagoux called Nebel and his wife on their cell phone and gave them the good news. Although they were already in Lincoln City they immediately turned the car around and headed back to Newport. A short while later they were greeted by a happy and hopeful city council who formally offered him the job – which he eagerly accepted.
During further discussions, Nebel said it will take him thirty days to wrap things up back Sault Sainte Marie. But he also said he and his wife had already booked a cruise on the Caribbean before he learned about the opening in Newport, and he and his wife still wanted to go on the cruise. The council was quite agreeable but then quickly asked him how soon after that could he start his new job.
They decided on December 16th. In the meantime Nebel and the council will have further negotiations as for his salary, benefits package and car allowance.
In the meantime, two members of the city council will travel to Sault Sainte Marie to talk with local officials and townspeople about Mr. Nebel’s reputation in the community. And Newport Chief of Police Mark Miranda will do a background check as well on Nebel in the interest of complete transparency, according to Mayor Sandra Roumagoux.
Several city councilors and their headhunter consultant have already done a cursory background check on Nebel and found him to be very well respected in the Sault Sainte Marie community with many admirers. A number of related references were also checked and they came back glowing.
This reporter also checked past issues of the SOO Evening News, the local Sault Sainte Marie newspaper and it’s filled with stories about Nebel and his 21 years as city manager. Those stories show a consistent pattern of a very able manager running a city of nearly 15,000 population; helping it to grow and thrive. He’s widely admired locally and statewide for his performance in municipal management and for serving on a number of statewide city association boards.
Nebel won the position over two other finalists, William Kohbarger, former city manager of Pahrump, NV and Ken Strobeck, Executive Director of the Arizona League of Cities in Phoenix. Both were very well qualified for the job, but the council agreed, Nebel really stood out.