Hood River hires new city manager

After enjoying a First Friday tour of downtown businesses, Hood River’s new city manager is excited about relocating to the community.

“I had such a wonderful time, it was just great,” said Robert “Bob” Francis, Jr., who is leaving his current position as the manager of the Borough of Stroudsburg, Penn.

Francis was hired last Friday to replace Lynn Guenther, who will retire after eight years in the position on Jan. 12. He was selected from about 60 applicants for the administrative role that pays an annual salary of $66,000 plus benefits. Francis arrives with a an extensive background in government administration — and a pledge that his “word is his bond.”

“Each of our top four candidates had special strengths and Bob placed a high emphasis on integrity and the ability to forge good working relationship both with the citizens and with the council,” said Mayor Paul Cummings.

Francis, 47, decided to apply for the job in Hood River upon the recommendation of a trusted friend that it would be the “ideal” community. After personally traveling to the Gorge city, he was even more impressed with his friend’s judgment — and the friendly welcome by local residents. So, he was very honored to accept the job offer and will spend the holidays packing his household goods so that he can be moved and ready to get to work by Jan. 5.

“I’m not always going to agree with an issue but I like to think that I’m a fair individual and I listen to people with an open mind,” said Francis, who will spend the first few weeks getting up to speed on local issues.

Cummings said Hood River residents will benefit from Francis’ strong skills in the following areas, grant writing, labor relations, economic development and finance.

He is also experienced in tourism-related issues since historic Stroudsburg, located 90 miles from New York City and Philadelphia, is a popular year-around destination for more than one million visitors each year.

Last Thursday Francis and three other finalists were invited to tour the county and visit with the five city department heads. They were treated to a social luncheon with the city staffers and a dinner with members of the selection committee.

Following these interactions, city officials and personnel registered opinions about each of the finalists.

Formal interviews began on Friday morning and by late that afternoon Francis had been chosen because of his supervisory talents. He will be charged with overseeing the activities of 55 employees and maintaining services for a population of 6,000.

Also vying for the position of city manager were Richard Sassara, HOPE director; John Anderson, Benton County administrator; and Chuck Spies, former city manager of Turner.

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