Manchester water taps new GM

Manchester Water District has a new general manager.

In an emergency board of commissioners meeting Monday night, the board unanimously selected Alan Fletcher to be their new general manager. Fletcher, who is currently deputy general manager for the Clackamas Water District in Oregon, was the board’s first choice out of three finalists.

“I thought he was a rock star,” said Commissioner Kyle Galpin. “I was real impressed with him. He is very well-suited. We were very lucky to get him.”

Fletcher was general manager of Oregon’s Claremont Water District before it merged with Clackamas in 1995. Before that, he was a public works superintendent in several Oregon cities.

Fletcher has an MBA and a MS in management and communications.

“He’s just got great credentials,” said Interim General Manger Bill McDonald. “He has a lot of water district experience.”

Despite the fact Manchester is a much smaller water district than Clackamas, Fletcher expressed sincere excitement over his new job. He said he is looking forward to the new opportunities Manchester provides and jokes that his new job will actually end up saving him a fortune in gas money — much of his family’s friends and family live in the greater Seattle area.

“This is pretty special for us,” Fletcher said.

Although he only got word of his new assignment last week, Fletcher said he has been on numerous tours of the district and its facilities — another tour is planned for this weekend. One thing he said struck him during these tours was the high quality of the water district staff. He was also impressed with the values and goals of the district commissioners.

“Their concern for bringing the public into the process was considerable,” Fletcher said. “And that’s exactly what needs to happen. We’re no longer the silent server. People want to know what’s going on with their water.”

It will still take time to identify Manchester’s particular problems and challenges, he said. The two biggest things he wants to focus on is examining the district’s rate structure and establishing the right level of improvements to plan for in the future. The district is currently forming a citizen-based rate advisory committee to assist in the rate examination (see box).

Fletcher also emphasized the need to establish a positive working environment and sense of trust between he and the district before any doing any troubleshooting.

“I want to build a good relationship and a sense of team with the employees,” he said. “Once you have it, it’s precious. And keeping it is a priority.”

Fletcher said the same principles apply to gaining and maintaining public trust.

“This is a public agency,” he said. “There’s nothing to hide anywhere.”

Fletcher’s first day will be May 6. McDonald plans to stay through Fletcher’s initial breaking-in period but not much past that.

Along with learning the ropes at Manchester, Fletcher will also be trying to track a new home for his family. He expressed wryness over the challenge of relocating from Oregon to Washington while trying to start a new job, but took an optimistic attitude anyway.

“It’s the right time of year (to move,)” he said.

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