GOLD HILL — Former Reedsport City Manager Rick Hohnbaum will guide the city of Gold Hill through the process of fixing its failing wastewater treatment plant and help the quaint community institute plans to become a recreation hub.
The City Council voted unanimously last week to hire the 57-year-old as city manager, replacing interim City Manager Dale Shaddox.
Hohnbaum, who has served as manager or administrator for a handful of small Oregon cities, said the city's small size and recreational offerings impressed him during the interview process.
"The only time I lived in town larger than 5,000 was when I went to college," he said. "I guess you could say small cities are my specialty."
Born in Eastern Washington, Hohnbaum grew up in Alaska and attended college in Oregon, graduating with a bachelor's degree in social science from Western Oregon University and a master's in public administration from Portland State University.
Hohnbaum was Reedsport city manager from 2005 to 2008. After that he worked as director of human resources for a large hospital district and spent one year working for a small city in Alaska that needed "some pretty major restructuring," he said.
Currently living in the coastal city of Gardiner, near Reedsport, Hohnbaum said he and his wife have listed their home for sale.
Hohnbaum said Gold Hill's wastewater dilemma is not uncommon.
"I've served several communities in Oregon, and one common issue that all those have had is wastewater issues, and the wastewater project for Gold Hill is going to be a biggie," he said.
Hohnbaum added that he is impressed by the historic character of the town and by some of the plans on the drawing board, including proposals for added river recreation and a soon-to-be-built skateboard park.
"I think it's pretty impressive for that little population what they have going in terms of historic appeal, the library and recreation," he noted. "It's pretty exciting to have the drive that they have."
Shaddox, who came on board in October, accepted another position before city officials could negotiate a permanent post. Shaddox said he would work at no charge to help bring Hohnbaum up to speed on existing projects and issues.
Shaddox said Hohnbaum's enthusiasm was likely a big selling point for the City Council, in addition to his experience with "small communities, financial issues and wastewater systems."
Hohnbaum will report for duty Feb. 12.
Buffy Pollock is a freelance reporter living in Medford. Email her at email@example.com