Joyce Marie Taylor
On Thursday, Jan. 31, the town of White Springs officially welcomed aboard their new town manager Bob Farley with a reception at the Stephen Foster Nature and Tourism Center that drew a large crowd, not only from White Springs, but from surrounding communities as far south as Branford.
“I really love the people,” Farley said of his new staff and the residents of the town. “This is a really pleasant place to work. I am so impressed with the volunteers that we have throughout the community; the food bank, the fuel bank and the H.O.P.E. program is outstanding,” he added.
Farley said he and the town council are aggressively trying to apply for grant funds in order to facilitate growth of the town.
“In today's day and age, grants are few and far between,” he said. “So we have to align ourselves and position ourselves with the state legislators in Tallahassee to do what we have to do to get our name known.”
When asked what challenges the town faced, Farley said, “We need jobs.”
Farley attended the quarterly North Florida Economic Development meeting at Suwannee River Water Management District offices in Live Oak on Feb. 1, and said he also attended them while employed as Live Oak City Manager.
“It's critical that we get all people involved in economic growth,” he said. “Can we make it happen?” he asked, and then answered the question himself. “It won't happen if we don't try.”
Farley said this past week he had a successful four hour meeting with members of the town council to discuss the vision and planning for White Springs.
“You know, when you start a new job, not only do they interview you, but you need to interview the employer,” he said. “So I picked their brains and asked them certain questions that I felt were important. I got a very positive response out of council, so I'm excited.”
When asked what he thought the town's greatest strengths were, Farley responded, “Location, location, location. This is beautiful. I mean, where else could you sit and look at the Suwannee River, and the history in this community, and the park...it is just a beautiful spot. It's obvious the town was designed as a bedroom community, but if we can get commercial growth around the area, like at the I-75 interchange, and get that area with water and sewage and utilities, it will grow.”
The biggest challenge to growth, he said, is funding.
“We have to learn to work smarter, not harder,” said Farley. “We've got to do our jobs and use teamwork. If I can get council and staff to work as one body, we can make anything happen. My staff that I currently have, you wouldn't believe the amount of work that they do. They all share a lot of responsibilities for such a small town. I told them we're small, but we're mighty.”