One city manager candidate wants to make Grenada a prime attraction.
Former Sardis Mayor Richard Darby is just one of four individuals seeking the opportunity to be Grenada's next city manager.
"I like the area and I saw this as a challenge," Darby said. "I applied for the position and fortunately I got to the level of an interview," he added.
With a Masters Degree in School Administration from the University of Mississippi and as a graduate of Delta State, Darby's education experience was further expanded by the military. He says that any position, including the position of city manager, requires good leadership and teamwork is vital to success.
"It's got to be a team effort. Everybody has got to work together due to my experience, I may add something in team effort to make things happen quicker or to make things better for everybody," Darby said. "We have a cohesive group of elected officials here, that want to see good things happen in Grenada."
During his military career, Darby, attended Officer Candidate School at the Mississippi Military Academy and the Command and General Staff College of the United States Army. Darby has held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel for both the United States Army Reserves and the Mississippi National Guard. As an Army Reservist, Darby was the 87th Division Headquarters Special Projects Officer.
While in the National Guard he participated in many leadership positions. He served as Deputy Commander of Camp Shelby, training approximately 10,000 troops, with the co-operation of 1,500 civilian and military personnel. Darby also assisted the commander of Camp McCain by taking on his responsibility during any absences. He worked with the Adjutant General by serving as project officer at the Mississippi National Guard Headquarters.
Darby's career path has lead him to work at Northwest Mississippi Community College, where he worked as Assistant Director of Research and Development, Director of Special Services, Administrative Assistant to the President, and Director of the Olive Branch Campus.
He is also the former Mayor of the City of Sardis. Under his leadership the city was able to obtain a $498,000 grant to get a city well and a total of $1.8 million dollars in grants for the renovation of their sewer system.
While at Sardis Darby worked with the U.S. Corps of Engineers and others to develop the a new marina on Sardis Lake. As mayor he worked with the Corps of Engineers to produce major changes to the natural tourism attraction. The group ultimately received approval for a hotel, conference center, and a golf course on the lake.
His work didn't end there, when Sardis County Hospital closed its doors, he was instrumental in recruiting Methodist Health Systems. This lead to the placement of a satellite facility. Just as Darby had visions for Sardis, he says that Grenada has a huge prospect for growth.
"Grenada should be developed into a destination area. That would be desired by everyone in the state," Darby said. "Grenada has its own trade area, Grenada Lake, Holmes Community College, a good hospital, an excellent school system, and an industrial park that's out of this world. It just needs to be cultivated and geared towards being a destination area."
Darby was also a Sardis Alderman for three terms before being elected as mayor. During his final term as mayor, which lasted from 2001-2005, he worked on a number of projects. He also provided private consultation for small cities. Darby feels that as city manager, he would be able to bring the necessary skills of assessment to provide structure.
"My first effort would be an evaluation process to see the strength and weakness of the city and try to make improvements on the weaknesses and further enhance it strengths," Darby said. "I would have to go in and evaluate the whole system. I was an alderman for three terms, a mayor for three terms, and at the same time I worked with the research department at Northwest Community College and plus the military at the same time. So with all those different entities, I know how the system works. I know how the grants flow and how direct appropriations work."
Currently, Darby resides in Grenada with his wife Kay. He has five grown children and are active members of Old Union Church of Christ in Carroll County. In August, Darby was inducted into the Mississippi Municipal Hall of Fame.
"Now I can't say I would be a magician and snap my fingers and make thins happen, but I think if you get a good team effort and along range plan of what you want to do out there," Darby said. "I believe you can get a team together that's on site and on target and eventually accomplish that goal."
Currently, the candidates for city manager are as follows: Inez Hankins, Richard H. Darby, Sidney M. Runnels, and Eileen Richardson.