GATE CITY — After having the position filled on an interim basis for nearly a year, the Gate City Town Council appointed a new town manager earlier this week during its first meeting of 2012.
The council voted Tuesday night to name Gate City resident Jeremy Keller to the position. Keller will be paid an annual salary of $45,500 plus benefits.
The hire makes Keller, 30, one of the youngest town managers in the state of Virginia.
Gate City Mayor Mark Jenkins said Keller is expected to assume the role after serving out the final month with his current employer, where he serves as a probation officer with the Virginia Department of Corrections.
Jenkins said he was excited to have Keller on board, especially since the town has been without a full-time town manager for nearly a year, causing him to fill the role in the interim.
“His ideas and vision of where he thinks we can go and where he would like to take us was impressive to me,” Jenkins said. “He obviously put more thought into improving Gate City than for just applying for the job. ... He’s also very energetic and very mature, and I think he’ll do a good job.”
Jenkins said he was also impressed by Keller’s interview with the council and his educational and work experience.
A 2000 graduate of Gate City High School, Keller earned bachelors of science degrees in criminal justice and philosophy from Radford University in 2003. He later graduated from Radford with a master’s degree in criminal justice and earned an MBA from King College.
Although it will be nearly a month before he assumes the role, Keller said he was eager to meet town hall staff and begin learning the finer points of his new job.
“There’s going to be an initial learning curve and I’m sure I’ll have to do some reading and update myself on the policies and procedures,” Keller said. “But once the learning curve is over with, I think we’ll be ready to move forward, hopefully at a pretty good rate.”
Once he settles into the role, Keller said he would like to increase the number of grants the town is able to obtain and take measures to attract new business and cut down on vacant buildings in the downtown area.
“I just hope I can have a positive impact on my home town’” Keller said. “I’ve lived here pretty much my whole life, including college, and I just want to do something good for it. I’m sure most applicants can name off similar attributes about themselves, but I figured few can say they’ve lived here and love their hometown.”
The decision to hire Keller was made nearly a month after existing Glasgow, Va. Town Manager Ryan Spitzer declined the council’s job offer.
Keller was not a previous candidate for the position and submitted his application after Keller rebuffed the town’s offer.
The council had been searching for someone to fill the job since September 2011, when former Gate City Town Manager Steve Templeton officially resigned from the position for personal and health reasons.
Even though Templeton resigned in the fall, he had been on medical leave since February, effectively rendering the town without a dedicated manager for the better part of 2011.
Jenkins served as the interim town manager over that period, and while he was able to keep the town running with the help of staff, Jenkins said the position needed the focus of a full-time employee.
“We need a manager in a role that can get out and promote business to spearhead things going forward,” Jenkins said. “We focused on keeping things running right and following procedures. The current staff really took it on themselves to do the core manager work and help out, and I couldn’t have done it and maintained my other responsibilities if not for them.”