Tim Schook finishes first month as city administrator - Mountain Grove News-Journal : News

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Tim Schook finishes first month as city administrator

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Posted: Tuesday, January 24, 2017 2:16 pm

Tim Schook has almost completed his first month as Mountain Grove city administrator.

Schook moved here from Stroud, Okla., were he served as city manager. Schook has been in city management for 19 1/2 years and will celebrate his 20th anniversary in city management in July.  Previous to serving in Stroud, Schook had served in Arma, Kansas for two years and Washington, Kansas for 11 years.

A native of central Illinois, Schook was a journeyman electrician working mostly in management prior to his becoming a city administrator. Prior to starting in city management at Washington, Kansas, he had worked for PPG Glass dealing with the electrical portion of their glass plants. He explained that his wife, Pam, had lived in Washington, Kansas and a councilman there had asked him to serve as city administrator, and he made the decision to make a change in his career.

All three of the previous cities Schook worked with had their own electrical system, and that will be one of the major differences in Mountain Grove since he will no longer have to manage that segment of the city’s operation. But he explained that the electrical systems were also an important area for revenue generation for those cities.

“It will take several months to get settled in and get a clear direction of where I want to go. I take it seriously to operate as efficiently as possible,” he stated.

Schook also stated that he felt it was important for the city to have sufficient reserves in order to be able to take care of itself, because there might not always be someone to come to its assistance.

He also feels that it is important on how a town looks when a new person comes to look at the community to consider it for a future place to live or operate a business.

“We need to get the community to look as good as it can and do what we can to create pride and have everyone wanting to make the community look as good as it can,” Schook said.

“We want everyone, retirees, people looking for a community to live in and new business people,” he added.

Assisting with economic development is also important to Schook’s vision of his position.

“I like to promote entrepreneurship,” he stated.

“I like 10 companies with 10 employees each as much as one company with 100 employees. With 10 companies you know that some will be successful,” he added.

It’s important to recruit entrepreneurs, along with established businesses, he said. He indicated that he looks forward to meeting and being involved with the economic development organizations in the community.

“I encourage the entrepreneur operating out of their ‘garage’ to come to me to help get to the next level. I understand it is a slow process,” he  said.

Schook said that he understood that economic development is hard in small communities. He pointed out that establishing a good quality of life in a community is also an important element to economic development. Some of the new approaches to economic development lean toward the position that if you have a good quality of life in your community that jobs will come. Quality of life seems to be especially important for the younger generation when they make decisions on locating in communities.

“I’m still a little old school that feels you create the jobs first, but I’m trying to increase my appreciation of quality of life improvements as an important part of economic development,” he said.

Another important thing we could do for economic development is to get affordable bandwidth to assist companies that need it, he stated.

“Everyone now wants incentives if possible. If I have to offer incentives, I like basing incentives on the number of jobs and if they are family supporting types of jobs. I look for return on investment of 5 to 7 years,” Schook said.

“Money will be the biggest challenge. It’s always money, never enough to do projects,” he said.

Mountain Grove is just keeping its head above water and it’s tough to create growth, he said.

Schook felt that if approved by voters the proposed sales tax increase for emergency services (police and fire departments), would be important to addressing many of these financial concerns.

The aldermen approved allowing voters to consider a one cent sales tax for the police and fire department operations during the April election. It was estimated that the sales tax would generate approximately $1,000,000.

Schook stated that if approved the proposal could carry the city into the next level of funding for the emergency departments, allow funds to be used in other areas and help the city to work in creating jobs.

The city has discussed the potential of changing from a fourth class to third class city. Schook indicated that a this point he didn’t see much benefit from the change, but if the city were to grow to over 5,000 then the city might be able to consider some type of change.

Schook stated that he is excited to be here.

“Mountain Grove has huge potential and it is in a beautiful part of the country-not much more picturesque,” Shook said.

Schook explained that he and his wife were attempting to get closer to their children. They have one child in central Illinois and two others in the Kansas City area.

“We spend a lot of time trying to see the kids,” he said.

Schook stated that he was a big NASCAR fan and he has season tickets at the Kansas Speedway, and has traveled to races at several other locations. He stated that he and his wife also like to hike and camp. He also hopes to spend more time golfing.

“I’m not a golfer, but a hacker, but do enjoy the game. We haven’t done it for awhile, but my wife and I will try to do that,” he added.