He is often referred to as “Mr. Smithfield” because Jim Gass has been serving as Smithfield’s city manager over the last 32 years. He is retiring, however, and an open house was held in his honor Thursday at the Birch Creek Golf Course.
Gass was a guest on <a href=”http://610kvnu.com/assets/podcaster/324/2015_03_26_324_31810_2867.mp3″ target=”_blank”>KVNU’s For the People program Wednesday</a> and when asked to describe his longtime job with the city, he called it, “quite a ride.”
He said the same things that he likes about Smithfield are those that have attracted other people over the last three decades: it’s a small community but growing, having gone from just over 4900 to 11,000 residents.
Gass said he feels a lot has been achieved, perhaps because of planning ahead. Gass cited to major projects in particular.
“The first one when I first came was trying to improve a horrible water system,” he explained. “We had a water system where you couldn’t shut the water off. A lot of our water system was old lead-jointed pipes.
“Over the years we’ve managed to completely rebuild that water system without impacting water rates to the public. I think that was a great thing, an accomplishment that we were able to do. The other thing, of course, constructing a city-wide sewer system.”
Gass said that project was divisive in the beginning but it ended up drawing the people closer together. He called his city a great place for families with a great recreation center, civic center and a new library is currently under construction.