City Manager Joe Bippus has received high marks from the Three Rivers City Commission in its latest annual evaluation of his performance in the city’s top appointed position.
During Tuesday’s (July 3) commission meeting, Mayor Tom Lowry summarized the results from the written evaluations turned in by all seven members of the commission and said that – out of a possible 350 points – Bippus received 323, a total score he described as “very darn good.” In reacting to the report, Bippus said the score is “the highest one ever” during his time as city manager, a period that spans 12 years. He has been with the City of Three Rivers for a total of 16 years, initially as chief of police. (Tom Lowry audio clip – :58)
Bippus was agreeable to having commissioners add comments about his evaluation in open session and First District Commissioner Judy Gilchrist led off with remarks in which she said, “I’m very happy with Joe and what he’s done for the city and the reports that we get.” She expressed appreciation for the way he handles her questions and added, “He talks about his staff and how important his staff is to him and how he educates himself all of the time.”
Fourth District Commissioner Carolyn McNary said, “Since I’ve been a commissioner, Joe has shown a lot of strength in his leadership, respect for his staff, and a lot of passion for this city. He has always had time to talk to me about concerns for citizens and different, either individual situations or neighborhoods or someone didn’t understand minutes. No matter what it was, if I brought it to him, he was willing to explain it to me to explain it to the individual or groups that were involved.” McNary added, “My concern for a long time had been that I didn’t think he was involved, even though he did the city management, he didn’t really have his ‘fingers down in the dirt in the community,’ and all the time he did, but on a business level and I kind of wanted to see him out more with the people so that the people could get to know their city manager better and I’ve seen that.”
Third District Commissioner Larry Matson, the newest member of the commission, noted the weekly reports Bippus provides to commissioners and said, “They are very thorough.” And he said, “He is much busier than I thought he was. He’s a very complicated individual who takes on many complicated problems and he’s handling them well. I think we have a fine city manager.”
Second District Commissioner Elbert Foster said, “Overall, I think you’re doing a fantastic job.” Foster noted that he had previously rated Bippus “kind of low” for “communicating,” but said, “Since then, you have really improved and I really appreciate you getting out the information that you get out by e-mail.”
Lowry closed out the comments by saying that “Joe is actually a great idea person.” He praised him as “a facilitator and catalyst to make an issue find a solution.” And he said Bippus has “good imagination on how to solve a problem” himself. (Tom Lowry audio clip – 1:02)
Both at-large commissioners – Daryl Griffith and David York – were absent.
Bippus responded briefly to the commissioner comments and said, “I appreciate that and I really love my job. I enjoy being here and I enjoy working with a great bunch of people right here and the truth of the matter is, this is the best staff I’ve ever had. They are incredible people and that’s what you’re seeing.”
Later, toward the end of the meeting, longtime City Attorney Pat O’Malley shared some thoughts on the subject and said, “I was just reminded with your evaluations of the city manager that I’ve served with quite a number of city managers and this kid does a pretty good job.”