Prospective manager would bring growth experience to Minot

The top candidate for Minot city manager would bring a wealth of knowledge about infrastructure to a community building a lot of it.

A search committee is recommending Lee Staab of Larkspur, Colo., for the position. The Minot City Council is expected to meet Friday to consider the recommendation.

Due to previous commitments in August, Staab would plan to assume the role in September if the council confirms his hiring.

Staab, 57, graduated with an engineering degree from the West Point military academy in New York state and later received his master’s degree in engineering from the University of Illinois. He worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for 28 years before spending more than seven years in private industry. He has made more than 50 trips in connection with his work to Iraq, Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates.

He has spent the past few days in Minot, getting acquainted with the city as well as interviewing for the city manager position.

“I am very impressed with the personnel that I met in the city that are dedicated to the growth of the community,” he said. “Everybody has a vision for the future and, collectively, it’s very similar. There’s a spirit of community here, with everybody loving the Minot community.”

His management style is to direct his energies to areas that he believes are most important. He said he doesn’t get overly excited about crises that can arise because little surprises him after his experiences in places like the Middle East, where threats of violence are common.

Staab described his leadership style as very personal. He wants to get acquainted with staff and council members and also community residents. He expects to spent a lot of time talking with residents to understand the city’s needs.

“The more exposure I can have to the people and to the people who work for the city, the better to find solutions,” he said.

Staab said his first actions would be to visit with department heads to discover their priorities and how those priorities fit into the coming year’s budget. He has considerable budget experience through his work with disaster funding through the Corps and in serving as president of Versar Engineering and Construction most recently. He said Versar’s annual revenue exceeded $100 million annually, while the Corps operated on a budget of about $2 billion a year.

He said he hopes to leverage his understanding of the Corps operation to assist the city in areas where the two work together. The Corps has been involved in flood control issues associated with the Souris River.

Staab added that he has been pleased to learn about the close relationship between Minot and Minot Air Force Base. Through his military contacts, he has become familiar with Minot in a positive way, he said.

“I had many friends stationed here in Minot,” Staab said. “They kept telling us what a wonderful thing it was to be stationed in Minot.”

Staab said he finds community involvement to be high in Minot. He and his wife, Wanda, enjoy year-round outdoor activities. He also is a long-distance runner.

The Staabs have four grown children and are expecting their ninth grandchild. One daughter works with the Wounded Warrior Project in Texas, and Staab will be participating in a Wounded Warrior bike tour during a class anniversary visit to West Point this summer.