Local News

Williams taking it slowly

LAKE PLACID - Newly appointed Lake Placid Town Administrator Phil Williams noted Monday that he's in a learning phase and plans initially to keep things simple. "I am trying not to make any changes until I understand the reasons why they came to be in the first place," he said. "Some of the things I see, like schedules and things like that, I would probably change right away, but you don't want to go in there and do too much too fast," and find out later that it wasn't a good move, he added. After retiring as a captain from the Indian River County Sheriff's Office, Williams was hired as Lake Placid's police chief on Feb. 1, 2001.
At the Feb. 4 special meeting, council unanimously approved Williams for the newly created position of town administrator, in a move to prepare for the retirement of longtime City Clerk Arlene Tuck. Moving his office from the police department to town hall will be an "evolution," Williams said. Town hall is "rather small," he said, and he has a lot of equipment and systems in place that he is familiar with at the police department. "The emails are tremendous, like I am riding a wave right now," he said. "Like I get an email a minute and I am trying to be responsive to everything." The position requires a lot more reading because he wants to be "familiar with every little thing that might be out there," he said. Did he have a priority list? Making sure all of Tuck's duties are covered when she retires is a priority, Williams said. "She has been here a long time," he added. "She is like a town historian as well as being involved in a lot of things for a long time. "It's a matter of finding out what needs to be done and what everybody expects to be done," Williams went on to say. "I have my own values and that is being responsive to the community and available and open with the community." He hopes to form continuity among the city's departments. "You know how Lake Placid has worked in the past; sometimes you had one department doing one thing and one department doing the other and it never had the active, full-time leadership of one person bringing everything together." Though council has discussed making Lt. James Fansler the deputy chief of the police department, Williams said, he will recommend that Fansler be interim chief. "I am going to be serving as town manager; I am going to be involved in the police department, but Fansler will be running the department on his own just like a department head," he said. At some point in time, Williams said, he expects to have a permanent police chief, but right now he is waiting to see how things progress. "I have met with the department heads and I think everybody is supportive of the concepts down here," he said. "I certainly feel like I have the town council's support." Mayor John Holbrook said having Williams as the town administrator will give the council members someone they can talk to if they have a problem they would like to see taken care of. Williams will be doing the basic day-to-day business for the town, Holbrook said. "He still works for the mayor, but I have turned over that part of the business to him. He will supervise all the town employees." Holbrook does not have any priorities for Williams. "First of all let him get acclimated to it, although he is doing a great job already just in the short period of time," he added. When Williams is more familiar with his new position, Holbrook wants to discuss long-range strategies to see where they want the town to go.

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