FRUITLAND — A long-time Fruitland City Councilor has assumed a new role; Stuart Grimes, who was first appointed to the council in June 2011 and has served there ever since, was sworn in as city administrator during the council’s regular meeting on Monday.

As the position is one that is appointed by the mayor and affirmed by a vote of the city council, Grimes was appointed to the position by Mayor Brian Howell this spring.

“I feel very honored and fortunate to be appointed to this position,” wrote Grimes in an email to the newspaper Monday evening. “I have served on the City Council for 11 years and have learned a tremendous amount about the operations of the various departments within the city. I truly feel Fruitland has some of the most dedicated and knowledgeable department heads and staff in the business and I’ve been very lucky to work with and learn from them. I’m thrilled for the opportunity to continue working with them and becoming a more involved member of the City of Fruitland’s organization.”

As he prepares to enter this new role, Grimes said his aim is to ensure the city continues to operate smoothly, working with the mayor and council as well as staff to accomplish goals.

“We are experiencing unprecedented growth and we are striving to stay proactive in regards to managing and accommodating that growth. I will also strive to support the various departments within the city and represent the city of Fruitland to the best of my ability. I am taking the reins from an incredibly knowledgeable administrator that has served for almost five decades, so I’ve got some incredibly large shoes to fill.”

Grimes is also known locally as a history teacher at Fruitland Middle School. But due to the commitment involved as city administrator, he will now close the book on that chapter of his life.

“I decided to accept this appointment after giving it much thought and consideration. I really enjoyed my previous career, but after 22 years I felt I was ready for a new challenge and a new adventure. I discussed the opportunity with my family and several friends that I routinely solicit advice from, and they all encouraged me to go forward with it. I have really enjoyed being on the city council and working with the staff, so the thought of working with them more directly made it an easier decision.”

Grimes said although he will miss his students and colleagues at the Fruitland School District, he is happy to still have involvement with the school district as a parent with kids in said schools.

“I’m sure my students will be in very competent hands when school resumes next month,” he wrote.

Grimes was given a little surprise during the meeting, which saw the council take a small recess to go outside for; Stewardship over the same 2000 Dodge Caravan Rick Watkins drove during his time. Grimes happily posed for pictures with his new work vehicle as colleagues, and his family who were present for his swearing-in, took photos.

As previously reported, outgoing City Administrator Rick Watkins will continue to work part-time as assistant to the city administrator, as he trains Grimes on the various aspects of the job. 

“Stuart’s eleven years serving on the City Council has given him some good insight into operations of the City,” wrote Watkins in an email Tuesday. “He’s young and has a lot of mileage left on him. Stuart is smart, very personable, and has a fantastic support system beginning with his wife, Deanna, and their three children.”

Watkins said he plans to continue working for another year before retiring. He has served as city administrator since 1983, as well as city clerk, zoning administrator, fire chief, Payette County Paramedics director, acting public works supervisor and acting chief of police, among others

“I have actually been transitioning out of these positions for the past five years by training successors to the positions. The City Council has been very supportive of the transition process from its inception,” Watkins noted.

Watkins cited his wife, Kim, as keeping him grounded throughout his career and struggles.

“We have had some excellent mayors, city councils and city employees over the years that have always had the Fruitland citizens’ best interests at heart,” he said.

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