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Interim Duncan Town Manager Philip Cushman

In an effort to be transparent and to earn the trust and respect of the citizens of Duncan, Interim Town Manager Philip Cushman has been posting a weekly update on the town’s Facebook page since his arrival last month.

In his latest update, Cushman thanked local resident Steve Martin for conducting an inventory on the town’s properties. The town owns 71 properties.

In an interview Friday, Cushman said the properties are inside and outside of town and on both sides of the river. They consist of both land and buildings.

Now, he’ll have to make recommendations to the town council as to what the town should divest itself of and what can be used in terms of economic development.

The sheer number of properties is “kind of unusual,” Cushman said, but explained that many of the properties were condemned following the floods in the 70s and 80s.

FEMA gave many of the properties to the state and the state, in turn, gave them to the town, he said.

Cushman also said he’s been talking to county officials about the animal control situation. His predecessor, John Basteen, used to pick up stray animals, sometimes going as far away as Three Way, but the town no longer has the ability to keep doing so, he said.

Until an agreement is reached, Cushman said residents will have to handle animal control issues on their own.

How big an issue is it? Cushman said he has no way of knowing.

He and a committee formed to find Basteen’s replacement are also hard at work, Cushman said.

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In the coming weeks, they’ll be coming up with a job description so they can advertise, conduct interviews and assess the candidates, he said Friday.

It’s not a process that can be rushed because the council doesn’t want to settle for just anyone, Cushman said.

Residents also need to keep in mind that town manager-level people typically give more than two weeks notice before accepting a new position, he said.

Cushman also informed residents he brought in civil engineer Jim Johnson to look over the town.

The town’s building codes are “pretty dated” and need to be updated, he said in the Friday interview.

At the same time, the town needs to consider how it can best enforce its codes without a full-time code enforcement officer or judge, Cushman said.

“Right now the town manager is the senior code enforcement of the town and if we have codes on the books I believe we need to enforce them and find ways to adjudicate them fairly,” he said Friday.

While junk cars fall lower on the town’s priority list than its financial situation right now, Cushman said he believes it’s important to formally identify problems prior to the new manager arriving.

Lastly, Cushman announced on Facebook he’d like to start a monthly prayer breakfast with local clergy members and create a monthly community organization collaboration meeting. He’d also like to develop closer relationships with other local governments. For example, he likes the idea of holding a joint Christmas party.

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