Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sallisaw Native Returns as Sallisaw City Manager

A Sallisaw native has been hired as Sallisaw's new city manager. Clayton E. Lucas II will take over his new duties on May 4. Outgoing City Manager Bill Baker will retire April 1, and Sallisaw City Commissioners are leaning toward having Assistant City Manager Keith Skelton fill in the gap. That will be determined at a special meeting to be held later in March.

Lucas grew up in the Central area, and attended Central School. He told KXMX, "I am excited to reconnect with many friends throughout the community and want to encourage those who may or may not know me to come by the office or stop me in the street to say hi and express their concerns about our community. My initial focus will be to work collectively with the city commission, employees and the community to develop and identify a plan that outlines the city's short and long-term strategic priorities and goals within the confines of the city's budgetary constraints."

Lucas explained how his family came to live in the Central area. He said, "My grandparents grew to love the outdoor recreation, landscape and especially the people of the area. They moved to Sallisaw in the 1950's after my grandfather, who I am named after, retired from the Army as a master sergeant at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. My dad, who still lives on the family farm on Miller Ridge Road, is a graduate of Central High School, where I also had the opportunity to attend and participate in football, basketball and baseball during elementary school, middle school and high school. Some folks may remember me as Red Chief, from "The Ransom of Red Chief," one of the annual plays put on by Central High School."

Lucas went on to attend and graduate from California State University at Fresno (Fresno State) and Pennsylvania State University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in geography and a master's degree in public administration. Lucas said he is currently the director of administration of the Fresno Housing Authority, a local government organization dedicated to creating vibrant communities through quality housing in the Fresno area.  The Fresno Housing Authority serves about 55,000 residents and employs about 220 employees, with a budget of more than $200 million, Lucas said. He explained, "I am responsible for the day-to-day operations of the agency under the direction of the executive director. My previous positions include city administrator of Salem, a full-services city in the Ozarks of Southern Missouri, and assistant city manager of the City of Lindsay, a rural farming community in California's San Joaquin Valley." Lucas was also Lindsay's director of personnel, management analyst, and assistant city planner, and also served the city as a firefighter and police sergeant. Lucas said he also worked for the City of St. George, Utah, as a police officer and city planner.

In Salem, Lucas said, his primary focus was to find ways to trim city spending and reestablish financial accountability and public trust in the wake of  a state audit that took place this year before he arrived. He said, "I have been successful in my career in securing and administering tens of millions of dollars in grant funding for a variety of projects that have included sports facilities, downtown revitalization, municipal utility upgrades, public infrastructure, economic development, alternative fuel vehicles, law enforcement personnel and equipment etc.

Lucas said his hobbies include hunting, fishing, canoeing, hiking, backpacking, skiing, and traveling. He has traveled throughout Latin America, including Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Belize, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Lucas said, "My wife, Lora, and I are grateful for the opportunity to return home. We look forward to raising our children, Clayton 14, Jonah 12, Willie 7, Henry 2, and Heather 4 months, in Green Country nearer to family and friends and becoming an integral part of the community."Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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