city manager Steve Corbitt

Steve Corbitt will return to the city manager's office again on an interim basis until the Ashland Board of City Commission hires a permanent manager.

ASHLAND The Ashland Board of City Commissioners on Thursday welcomed the return of former City Manager Steve Corbitt, who will serve as acting city manager in place of interim City Manager Richard “Sonny” Martin as the commission proceeds with its search for a permanent hire.

The Ashland native previously served as city engineer and public services director before his six-year stint as city manager that ended with his 2013 retirement.

Members of the commission were reflective in their first regular meeting since Election Day, and offered praise for Martin.

“Sonny, I’ve said this before, then you came back,” Commissioner Larry Brown told the long-time city attorney. “We want to thank you for your 39 years of service to the city of Ashland and this community.”

Brown withdrew from the commission race after the primary election and will step down this year after 16 years as a city commissioner. The exit of himself, Martin, Mayor Chuck Charles and Commissioner Kevin Gunderson strips the commission of more than 80 years of experience, Brown said, before wishing well the incoming public officials.

Gunderson said Martin’s service to the city was crucial in the wake of the contentious departure of City Manager Ben Bitter.

“He has kept us out of more trouble than you can ever imagine. I really mean that, more legal trouble, more financial trouble. When we were about to go off a cliff, he stopped us,” said Commissioner Kevin Gunderson, who was not re-elected after 26 straight years on the commission.

Commissioner Amanda Clark, who along with Marty Gute was re-elected on Tuesday, thanked Martin for guiding the commission over the past eight-and-a-half months.

Martin in turn thanked the commission and city employees.

“I first want to recognize the city’s dedicated workforce. I hope that the citizens appreciate them as much as I do,” he said. “Between staff, the employees and the board I believe we got quite a bit accomplished in the last nine months.”

He applauded the commission for overseeing a budget that yielded an $831,000 general fund balance last year and contributed to a $5.6 million reserve.

Martin said he’s looking forward to a return to the private sector.

“I’m not a city manager, I’m a lawyer. I’m going to go back to being a lawyer,” said Martin.

Charles thanked Martin for his service before proceeding to lead the meeting.

Shop local

Charles called Ashland In Motion Director Whitney Lowe to the commissioner’s row as he announced the city will recognize Nov. 26 through Dec. 25 as “shop local season” in an effort to entice local residents to place their sales tax dollars back into the city.

“When you think about those gifts and those purchases you’re going to make, please go [downtown],” said Charles.

Reservoir cleaning

City Engineer Ryan Eastwood said the city is on track to finish its reservoir cleaning project today.

Twenty-four million gallons of water will return to the reservoir next week, he added, in a process that should be completed in two days.

The city agreed to pay Evergreen AES $11,000 per day to assist in the dredging.

Recess

The meeting was recessed for noon today to finalize the Mill Street facility contract and provide second reading on Thursday’s new business.

In observance of upcoming holidays, the commission will reconvene only one final time in 2016, and that meeting is slated for December.

The newly-elected commission will assume office in January.

(606) 326-2651 | aadkins@dailyindependent.com

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