The Coastal Star

Gulf Stream: Commissioners choose familiar face for town manager

Greg Dunham (second from left) chats with Gulf Stream Mayor Scott Morgan, resident Patsy Randolph

and Commissioner Joan Orthwein after being selected as town manager.

He previously held that job in Manalapan and Ocean Ridge.

Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star

By Steve Plunkett
    
    Gulf Stream’s new town manager is no stranger to the barrier island.
    Greg Dunham, currently town manager of Kenly, N.C., also held that position in Manalapan for seven years and in Ocean Ridge for more than three.
    “I love these small ocean communities,” he told Gulf Stream town commissioners at a special meeting March 17 called to offer him the job.
    Town Manager William Thrasher gave notice in November that he planned to retire April 28 and in January placed ads to find his successor. Dunham was thrilled to learn about the opening in the midst of a North Carolina winter. “I did three back flips,” he said.
    Dunham moved to Palm Beach County to become assistant city manager of Palm Beach Gardens in 1994 after earning a master’s degree in public administration at Florida State University. He previously was a police officer and an assistant city manager in Texas.
    “I consider Palm Beach County, and especially here on the ocean, as my home,” Dunham said. “All my friends and family are here in Palm Beach County, and this is where I want to be.”
    He has been in Kenly, part of the research triangle region around Raleigh, a little more than five years. His accomplishments there included building a budget surplus after inheriting a town on the verge of insolvency, obtaining a $750,000 block grant for water and sewer projects, and prompting 35 homeowners to bring their properties up to code.
    In Manalapan he’s proudest of having managed the construction of the town’s reverse osmosis water plant and overseeing the transition from a small public safety department to a contract with Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue. Dunham was manager there from October 2002 to January 2010.
    While in Ocean Ridge he initiated the Focus 2000 strategic plan and implemented a stormwater drainage study that led to the winning of several grants and loans to build the town’s detention pond off Woolbright Road. He was there from September 1998 to May 2002.
    Thrasher, 69, celebrated his 20th anniversary as a Gulf Stream employee last summer. Mayor Scott Morgan said stability was an important attribute and asked Dunham how long he expected to stay on the job if he were hired.
    “I’m 64 years old,” Dunham replied. “I would like this to be my last job. And I’ve told everybody that’s asked me … I would like to work till at least I’m 75 years old. …
    “Now, a lot of that has to do with how my knees do,” he added. “I jog 3 miles a day except for one; I take one day off.”
    Under the Town Charter, the town manager makes recommendations to the commission on whom to hire for town clerk, police chief and town manager. Gulf Stream received about two dozen applications for the job, Thrasher said.
    He narrowed the group to five and drafted Town Clerk Rita Taylor, Police Chief Ed Allen and staff attorney Trey Nazarro to help him evaluate the finalists.
    Also interviewed were Mark Kutney, former town manager of Loxahatchee Groves; David Recor, strategic performance manager in Pompano Beach; Sarah Hannah-Spurlock, former assistant city manager in Key West; and Dale Walker, county manager of Macon-Bibb County in Georgia.
    After meeting the prospective hires in person, Thrasher recommended only Dunham to the commissioners. They embraced his recommendation 4-0, with Vice Mayor Thomas Stanley absent.
    “Wow! That was so cool,” Dunham said after the vote.
    Dunham was also a finalist for the town manager’s job in South Palm Beach in 2014.
    Morgan and Thrasher will negotiate Dunham’s salary. Gulf Stream’s advertisement said the new hire could expect $95,000 to $110,000 in pay. Dunham will report to work in transition with Thrasher on April 17 and take over the manager’s duties May 1.
    In other business, commissioners moved the date of their next regular monthly meeting from April 14, which is Good Friday, to 9 a.m. April 17.
    The five incumbents also took the oath of office after all were re-elected March 14. Morgan said the campaign was “run in a dignified way, respectful and restrained, and I thought it did credit to the town.”
    Paul Lyons received 307 votes, Morgan got 319, Joan Orthwein 312, Stanley 317 and Donna White 307. Challengers Julio Martinez got 112 votes and Martin O’Boyle 26.
    The turnout was 47.9 percent. Almost 2 of every 3 voters selected fewer than five candidates.

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