Smith hopes to continue economic growth of Eldon as new City Administrator
Over the last couple of years, the buzz has been alive in Eldon as a number of new businesses have made their homes within city limit. With steady businesses such as Quaker expanding operation, to new, homegrown startups such as Ice Cream Factory, there is a bastion of opportunity. In his newly hired role Eldon City Administrator, Don Smith hopes to not only nurture these opportunities, but also look forward to new possibilities.
Smith was born and raised in a small farming town in Ohio where he attended Fredericktown High School. In 1982, he entered the US Military Academy at West Point where he studied Civil Engineering and Operations Research. His athletic, academic, and military performance earned him distinction as one of the top cadets at the academy.
Smith is no stranger to the lake, and Eldon specifically, as he has managed several businesses in the area, including the SOLA plant in Eldon from 1995-2000 and the KEIPER/JCI plant, also in Eldon, from 2001-2015. Smith also holds a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management and is a graduate of the US Army Basic and Advanced Engineering schools as well as APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management. Now, as City Administrator, Smith hopes to take his education and work experience into public service.
“A lot of my success comes from the people I’ve hired in Eldon throughout the years,” Smith said. “I felt like it was time to step forward and try to go something back to the community.”
From the get-go, Smith says that he made it clear to the city that the Mayor would be the goal setter for community projects. When speaking with Mayor Trevor Vernon in early interviews, he says he wanted to make sure that the mayor and the aldermen set goals for him to help achieve.
“My role is to get this city into better operational habits,” Smith said. “How we spend money, how we allocate funds, how we fix the roads, how we do parks and recreation. We need to do these things well and effectively. That’s what is most important to me; that we treat the citizen’s money better than we would treat our own.”
Looking at immediate needs for Eldon, Smith says there is no question that the city has taken some big hits in the past few years, between events like the 2019 tornado or, more recently, COVID-19. He says that he has been doing a full evaluation of the city’s finances and will be making more concrete decisions in the weeks to come.
Overall, Smith sees Eldon as a city with a strong community spirit. He says the city’s infrastructure could use some bolstering, especially looking at waste and stormwater issues. Even so, the underlying resilience of the city was the main attraction for Smith to take the position and he’s excited to see where the city can continue to grow.
“We need to make sure that it’s not a burden to open a business in Eldon, we need to not get in their way,” Smith said.