Thatcher promotes from within: Brown selected as town manager

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher’s Heath Brown smiles during a previous council meeting. On Monday, the council unanimously voted to hire Brown as the new town manager, dropping the ‘interim’ from his title.

By Jon Johnson

THATCHER – After serving as both the interim town manager and town engineer since former town manager Terry Hinton resigned in April, Heath Brown has dropped the “interim” label.

Hinton resigned after 21 years at the helm after an evaluation of his performance during a Thatcher Town Council executive session April 16 led the council to decide to not renew his contract. He previously received high marks for his work with the town. Mayor Bob Rivera said nobody on the council had gone through the process of hiring a town manager before and that they were grateful for the assistance they received from the Arizona League of Cities and Towns. 

“This was a new thing for all of us,” Rivera said.

Hinton went on vacation after the meeting and Brown was appointed as interim co-manager during a special meeting April 18, with the intention of Brown becoming the interim town manager starting July 1. Hinton was supposed to stay working through June 30, which was the end of his contract.

However, Brown became the sole interim town manager in May, as Hinton did not stay in his position. Rivera said Brown’s performance during his time as interim manager greatly helped his case. Rivera also thanked Safford City Manager Horatio Skeete for assisting Brown and helping him get his feet wet on issues such as handling the town’s budget, which was one of the major items he had to suddenly handle. 

“For the last four months, he’s done a great job,” Rivera said. “He caught on quickly. He’s not afraid to ask for help. It was a unanimous decision to bring him on board. We’re very pleased with the work he has been doing and we look forward to a lot of success under his guidance as the administrator manager.”

After an executive session during the Thatcher Town Council’s Monday night meeting, Brown was unanimously selected for the position, beating out the town’s two other finalists: Valerie Claussen, who works for a consulting firm from Mesa, and Surprise Assistant Public Works Director David Kelly. The three candidates were whittled down from a pool of 18 applicants. 

While the town did look far and wide for a new manager, they chose to stay close to home and hire in-house.

With Brown’s hire, the council is assured of a manager who they know can do the job since he was performing the duties as well as those of the town engineer for months, but that also leaves an opening as they will seek to hire a new town engineer.

“Now he’ll be getting a team together and start putting together a job description and vacancy for his old job as town engineer because he was doing both jobs at the same time,” Rivera said. “He was putting in a lot of hours . . . We’re very pleased with Heath. He’s committed, dedicated, and he has the respect of the employees. He has them working on projects, so he knows what needs to be done. And when they do select an engineer, he being one knows what he wants for the town of Thatcher.”

This article was updated Friday morning to include comments from Thatcher Mayor Bob Rivera.