LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -Lawton’s City Manager is talking about his decision to retire early next year. Jerry Ihler made the announcement on Monday after working for the city for almost 35 years.
He said retiring is something he and his wife have been talking about since the beginning of the year. He wants to spend more time with her and better get to know his grandkids.
Ihler said a lot has changed since he started with the city back in 1982.
“Technology has changed probably is the biggest change that I’ve seen in the length of time that I’ve been here,” Ihler said. “The city has made a lot of progress, a lot of improvements too. Some of the areas around 2nd street, that area has improved, and we’ve seen a lot of growth as the city has developed to the west and the east.”
He started as an engineer, for a job in California, then, came back a short time later. Ihler worked his way up and became the Public Works Director before being named the city manager in 2015. He said he never thought he’d have that title when he started with the city all these years ago.
“I was very satisfied working in the engineering, public works area but now that I’m here it did open up an opportunity,” Ihler said. “It gave me another opportunity and a challenging and it’s been very rewarding.”
One of the things he is most proud of is the southeast water treatment plant.
“I think about what would’ve happened in when we had the ice storm and the Medicine Park plant is out of service for over a week had we not had the SE water treatment plant, the community would’ve been out of water completely,” Ihler said.
While he's excited to spend more time with family and get some traveling done. He said he's going to miss the friends that he's made over the years.
“I’d like to thank all of the friends that I’ve made and the employees that I’ve worked with for the last 34 years,” he said. “It’s truly been a pleasure and I’ve met some really hardworking, dedicated people that work for the city and I want to thank them.”
As he prepares to leave the city, there are some things that won’t leave him. He said being city manager taught him patience, there is more than one way to get something done, and to be open to solutions.
Ihler doesn’t plan on leaving until January or February but wanted to let the city know his plans now so they have time to find his replacement before the position is vacant.