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New leadership in Wells as longtime city manager retires

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Wells City Manager

Longtime Wells City Manager Jolene Supp has retired, and Jordan Tilley was sworn in this month to replace her.

WELLS – A year and a half after Wells City Manager Jolene Supp told the City Council she would like to retire from her job, a replacement has been selected.

Two job searches locally and nationally resulted in Jordan Tilley being chosen. He started on Nov. 1.

Tilley graduated from law school and public administration from the University of Idaho at Moscow and holds a public administration degree. He grew up in Bountiful, Utah, where most of his family still lives, and has a brother living in Elko.

This month Tilley has been working with Supp to learn about all the projects, grants and plans that she has been working on. He said he was surprised at the number of projects in the planning phase that are now on his desk.

Supp had been Wells’ city manager for 22 years and has set the city on good financial footing with potential prospects for the future. She has also faced unforeseeable disasters during her career, both occurring in February of different years.

On Feb. 23, 2008, a 6.1 earthquake centered about eight miles north of town on a previously unknown fault occurred at 6:15 am. The quake shook up the residents and heavily damaged most of the brick buildings in the old section of town on Front (Seventh) Street. The remains of the buildings and the debris were later cleared away and now the parcels are vacant.

When asked how she handled this disaster, Supp said the help came to her in the form of church groups, volunteers and construction companies. Human capital rose to the task and “this was gratifying and comforting. We made lemonade from lemons,” she said. With grants and government aid Wells now has a new City Hall, Municipal Swimming Pool, and Public Works Building, new buildings with no debt.

Nine years later, in February 2017 a “hundred-year flood” hit the east end of town. After an early spring thaw and warm rains, the drainage ditches and culverts on the east side of town were not able handle all the water. The flooding hit most of the businesses on east Sixth Street and continued flowing to the railroad tracks that became a dam holding back the waters.

Again, volunteers came to help with cleanup, and Supp went to work contacting the state transportation department and the railroad to help with repairs and to improve drainage in this area.

Supp also worked to improve Wells with paved streets and better water and sewer systems. Her efforts have placed the city on good financial footing by building revenue resources and setting up a five-year plan to continue improvements such as the airport and the heavy industrial park.

Jordan Tilley, coming in with “new eyes,” will continue the work of promising projects. One of them is to bring natural gas from the Ruby pipeline 20 miles north of the Wells for commercial and residential use.

Tilley will continue to promote this as well as the Redevelopment Agency that covers most of east Sixth Street to the intersection of U.S. Highway 93, where new businesses are ready to move in.

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