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First year gets thumbs up from Darrow

Mike Darrow

Mike Darrow displays a poster for the Twin Cities Marathon on his office wall.

It's not meant to tout the fact that he once completed the race, which he admits was many years and a few pounds ago.

The poster actually serves as a reminder that he has to take everything one step at a time. It's a goal he's strived for during his first year as New Richmond's new city administrator and utilities manager.

"I ran 26 miles, but I knew I could only get there one mile at a time," he explained. Darrow said if he focused on the 26 miles, he felt overwhelmed. By ticking off the miles one at a time, he was able to stay on task.

"That's how I take this job," he said. "You have to take the tasks and break them down into manageable parts."

When the steps are made clear, Darrow said, the appropriate staff person with the right skills can be assigned to complete the task. Sometimes he is the person to tackle the job, and other times it's someone else and the job is delegated, he noted.

"The thing that gets me excited the most is the people I work with. It's a great team," he said. "I'm just excited about the job as I was April 23 (2012) when I walked through the door."

A lot has been accomplished within the city over the past 12 months, Darrow said, thanks to the City Council and fellow employees. He said he's thrilled to be working in a community that has significant prospects for growth, thanks to the proposed new St. Croix River Crossing and other factors.

He pointed to the new boundary agreement between the Town of Star Prairie and the city, as well as the land use planning related to property on the northern edge of the community, as significant milestones in 2012-13 that will have an impact on New Richmond's future.

Darrow said he's also enjoyed meeting with local residents in various settings, and stopping by many businesses to meet the owners and ask them what the city can do to support them.

"I'm looking forward to the second year," he said.

Speaking of the future, Darrow said he will continue to focus on economic development as 2013 kicks into high gear. He also hopes to continue his efforts at improving city communication with residents and businesses by implementing social media and email efforts.

He said he'd also like to continue to provide professional development opportunities to city employees, with an eye for innovation and efficiency. He said his ultimate goal is to maintain or grow city services, while at the same time reducing the city's budget.

"I feel we can do all those things," he said.

Apart from his job, Darrow said his family is thrilled to be part of the community. He pointed to the recent father-daughter dance he attended with his 4-year-old daughter, Coda, at The Centre as one example of events and activities the family has enjoyed.

He and his wife, June, have both found New Richmond a great place to live and raise a family, Darrow said. He also said they have great neighbors, who have been fun to get to know.

"We're enjoying living here," Darrow said. "If we didn't, the job wouldn't be as enjoyable. I thought I would miss Minneapolis more, but I don't. I love being here."