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Three candidates vie for community developer position

 

Carl Smith

 

Starkville aldermen could hire a new community developer Tuesday during their recess meeting, Mayor Parker Wiseman says. 

 

The board interviewed three candidates in a special meeting Feb. 6 after more than 30 people applied for the newly created Starkville Community Development Director position. 

 

Interviewed candidates included C. Cameron Ross, a senior city planner for Cincinnati, Ohio; S. Donovan Scruggs, Hattiesburg's planning manager; and William L. Snowden, of the Tuscaloosa, Ala.-based planning firm Snowden and Associates. 

 

Wiseman said he expects aldermen to take action on the hire Tuesday, but the city will not publish its board agenda until Friday. 

 

Wiseman said he was impressed with the number of quality applicants the city received in its search and believes Starkville's new form-based codes, which the board approved last year, initiated strong interest in the position. 

 

The position opened after former Starkville City Planner Ben Griffith resigned in October. Starkville aldermen tapped Lynn Spruill to serve as an interim manager in Griffith's absence and authorized her to rename the Starkville Building, Codes and Planning Department to the Community Development Department. That move, Spruill says, allows a forward-looking, progressive approach to community development that is geared toward being user- and developer-friendly while remaining sensitive to the community's needs. 

 

"This is a very important hire. The new department has been designed to unify functions associated with community development, and we're trying to establish a leader at the top of the organization who can ensure that development processes run seamlessly," Wiseman said. "It's of the utmost importance that we hire a person with the skill set to do just that. 

 

"This is a very attractive time for Starkville," he added. "The applicant pool is indicative of a level of energy in this community right now that outsiders are observing." 

 

Ross has served in his capacity for Cincinnati, Ohio, since October 2008. He received a bachelor's degree in environmental biology from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2003 and earned a master's degree in community planning from the University of Cincinnati's School of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning in 2008. Ross also worked for the Environmental Protection Agency from 2004-2008. He is a member of the American Planning Association, Congress for New Urbanism and the Urban Land Institute and earned LEED AP certification. 

 

Scruggs, who holds a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in public policy and administration from Mississippi State University, took over as Hattiesburg's planning manager in 2012. 

 

He served as Ocean Springs' director of community development and planning from 2000-2007. Scruggs is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners and the American Planning Association. 

 

Snowden earned a master's degree in political science and public administration from Jacksonville State University (Ala.) in 1971 and received a master's degree in city planning from Georgia Tech in 1977. He served in numerous economic development capacities for Tuscaloosa for 10 years, and worked in planning departments for Auburn, Ala., Birmingham, Albany, Ga. and Rock Hill, S.C. Snowden also served with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and was inducted as a Fellow in the American Institute of Certified Planners.

 

Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch

 

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