Safford City Manager John Cassella

After an unsuccessful search for an assistant city manager, Safford City Manager John Cassella said he is pleased to announce he thinks he’s found an excellent new utilities director.

Jason Brimhall will begin Sept. 27.

A few years ago, Utilities Director Jenny Howard left the city to go to the Graham County Co-op and then City Manager Horatio Skeete opted to create an assistant city manager position and assigned Howard’s replacement with her tasks, Cassella said.

Those tasks were his during his one-year stint as assistant town manager and would’ve fallen to his successor if he’d been able to find one, Cassella said. The one candidate he hired was let go during his probationary period and he’s not been able to find one since.

Most of the candidates either didn’t have enough experience or were toward the end of their career, he said.

“I didn’t like what I was seeing so I decided to hire a utilities director,” Cassella said. “I was looking for a particular type of personality. I was looking for someone with drive and fire. Of course, I also wanted someone with experience, but I wanted someone with good character and drive.”

He found exactly that in Brimhall, who lives in Pima, Cassella said.

Brimhall obtained his associate’s degree in drafting and design from Eastern Arizona College and studied civil engineering at Arizona State University. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Education, Career and Technical Education and Occupation Education from Northern Arizona University.

He’s been working for Phelps Dodge/Freeport-McMoRan since 2006 and his most recent titles are senior civil engineer/supervisor/mentor.

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As such, Cassella said Brimhall has had a lot of experience overseeing projects and staff.

“Jason was a stand-out without a doubt,” Cassella said.

Brimhall will oversee the gas, water, sewer and electric divisions within the city, but he’ll probably have additional tasks assigned to him, including the landfill and sanitation, he said.

Re-creating a utilities director position means he won’t be spread as thin, Cassella said.

Brimhall will be able to interact with the department’s 40-member crew more often and be more involved in the day-to-day operations and long-range/budgetary planning.

With so many responsibilities, the utilities director will earn a salary comparable to that of an assistant city manager, Cassella said.

In the City of Safford that equates to about $115,000.

“I’m very excited to have him on board. I think he’s going to do great things,” Cassella said.

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