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Public works director to retire

After a lengthy career with the city of Ashland, Public Works Director Paula Brown has decided to retire. Her last day will be May 1.

“Life is too short to be this busy,” Brown said.

She said her main priority is spending time with family and travel. She and her husband, Patrick Flannery, own Dana Campbell Vineyards, so she hopes to help out more at the vineyard too.

Her retirement comes in the midst of several large projects, such as the potential piping of the TID canal, a new water treatment plant and a city hall renovation.

She said she’s glad to have completed the 20-year master plan, so the next public works director will know exactly what needs to be done.

“You’re never going to finish everything, but that 20-year plan is the most important thing,” Brown said. “You’re always going to leave things undone, and that’s OK as long as there’s a plan to get things done.”

City Administrator Kelly Madding said the city hired recruiting consultant Wendi Brown of WBCP Executive Recruiting and Search Services to develop the job brochure and advertise it, as well as help select interviewees.

The city will pay no more than $9,400 for the consultant, Madding said.

“The beneficial thing about using a recruiter is that they know people who are searching for jobs and can send them our way,” Madding said.

Madding said the consultant is meeting with city councilors, city staff and residents to determine Ashland’s ideal new public works director. The goal is to have one hired by June 1.

Madding said Brown has done an excellent job of having her staff highly involved in the current projects. For example, Deputy Director Scott Fleury is the project manager of the new water treatment plant, which is the largest project of the bunch, Madding said.

“She is very respected in not just the city of Ashland but within the region and the state, and the city is very fortunate to have had her,” Madding said. “And she will be missed.”

Brown began working for the city as a contracted project engineer with Rogue Valley Council of Governments in 1995.

She was then hired as public works director in 1997, the day after the historic New Year’s Eve flood.

She remained the director through the end of 2008. At the same time she remained in the Navy Reserves and was called into active duty a couple of times during her first stint, once in 2005 to Pearl Harbor, and again in 2009 when she deployed to Iraq, and again to Pearl Harbor.

During her time away from the city she earned the rank of rear admiral and finally ended her 35-year career with the Navy in 2016.

She returned to work for the city as a project manager in 2017 and regained her position of public works director later that year when Mike Faught retired.

Brown, originally from Seattle, first landed in the valley in 1993. She said working for the city of Ashland has been both satisfying and fun.

She said more than anything she wants to thank the public works staff for their dedication.

“The public works staff and the commitment they have to our community to make it better is so incredible,” Brown said. “I’m so proud to have been a part of that.”

She said the residents of Ashland made the job easier in many ways because they know what they want and will voice their opinions.

“The nice thing about this community is that they let you know when they’re frustrated,” Brown said.

She said in the world of public works, where every job involves finding a solution to a problem, it’s helpful to know what kind of solution the community wants.

Brown said her only plans for retirement are to focus on family, take a celebratory trip to Hawaii this summer and make it to Mount Everest within the next two years to fulfill her and her husband’s dream.

Contact Ashland Tidings freelance reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at caitlin.fowlkes@gmail.com.

Paula Brown