Earlier this month Fredericktown City Administrator Doug Friend said farewell after four years with the city.
Friend said he would not trade his experience as the administrator for anything.
“It has been a very neat experience for me,” he said. “I get the community spirit and community pride here.”
Over the last four years Friend helped the city council direct and implement significant improvements to the infrastructure, maintenance and operations of the city. Some improvements include upgrades to the electrical distribution system, renovation of the water plant and distribution system, the beginning of maintenance to ensure compliance with DNR guidelines for the sewer system and much more.
“The citizens of Fredericktown have every right to be proud of our city,” Friend said. “The mayor and board of alderman, IDA, county commission and school board have created an atmosphere of cooperation and assistance that has enhanced our ability to grow and prosper for years ahead. The leadership shown by our government leaders has, without a doubt, provided a basis for Fredericktown and Madison County to meet the challenges of the future.”
Friend said he believes the area of the US 67 and SR 72 interchange is a prime development site.
“I have continually stated that our city is a hidden treasure that is about to awaken with robust economic growth,” Friend said. “We are well positioned geographically and I believe it’s only a matter of time before we see our hard work come to fruition.”
Friend said he was not actively seeking another position but that something special had come along that does not happen often.
“I appreciate the community and the board support and the growth and the opportunities that were here,” Friend said. “That (new) job just doesn’t come around very often and it was an opportunity to get back to the area when I was born and raised and went to school in.”
Friend sang the praises of the board, the mayor and all the city employees, saying he could not say enough good things about them.
“I think the thing I will take away more than anything is that inherent community pride that everyone carries with them.” Friend said. “There has been challenges all across the board whether it was city issues or community issues but what I found is that it didn’t take long for a group of citizens or leaders to say ‘well lets address this and hit it head on. Let’s don’t just let it be here next year this time, lets fix it.’ That to me has been the most endearing characteristic, quality or experience that I’ve had. That folks are willing to get their hands dirty and fix problems.”
When asked about advice for the next city administrator, Friend said, “I would encourage whoever follows me to pick the brain of the mayor and the board. I think just listening and using the talent we have on the board and also the talents of the department heads and the employees. My philosophy when I came here and throughout my career, I didn’t come in here with the idea that I am going to change the world.
“It takes time to just understand what your base line is and then you can tweak it and do different things but once again you have to pick your battles and budgets always matter so you might want to do something but you might not be able to afford to do something. I don’t have any doubt that with the leadership we’ve got here and the department heads we have in place that whoever takes my place is set up to be successful.”
It was apparent this was a bittersweet moment for Friend, as one chapter of his life began to close and he prepared for the next. He spoke of the friends and memories he has made along the way and it was obvious what he would miss the most was the people he had come so close to over the years.
“I am gong to certainly miss the city hall staff and the mayor and the board and everybody,” Friend said. “You become family and you learn about them. People have grandchildren. You learn and share, and you spend a lot of time with your work family.”
In Friend’s final farewell to the citizens of Fredericktown, he thanked Mayor Kelly Korokis and the board for allowing him to be a part of the community for the past four years and said it has truly been a blessing to both him and his family. Adding that should his assistance ever be needed, he is only a phone call away.
“Our paths will cross at sporting events and different functions,” Friend said. “It is a small world.”
Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at email@example.com