Blaine public works director leaving for Lynden

Published on Wed, Oct 26, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Blaine public works director Steve Banham speaks with Blaine City Council people at the Monday, October 24, Blaine City Council meeting; Banham's last as public works director. Photo by Jeremy Schwartz



City of Blaine officials will start the search for a new public works director after Steve Banham leaves for a job in Lynden.

Banham has been Blaine’s public works director for just more than nine years, after spending about two years as assistant public works director. Banham’s last day with the city will be November 4, after which he will take the public works director position with the city of Lynden.

“It’s been a very quick 11 years,” Banham said.

Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic said they will most likely hire an outside search firm to collect applications for Blaine’s new public works director. Hiring such a firm usually costs around $25,000, and the process will most likely take three months.

Tomsic and Banham started working for the city of Blaine at about the same time. Tomsic has been involved with multiple city governments over his career and said Banham is the best public works director he has ever worked with.

“He’s gotten a heck of a lot done in the time he’s been here,” Tomsic said. “He’s going to leave a big hole.”

Banham said the job announcement for the Lynden position came up relatively quickly. He heard about it at a breakfast he attends regularly with the public works directors of the other small cities in the county and decided to throw his hat in.

Banham said changing jobs at this point in his career makes sense to him and that taking on new challenges will be good. “But ask me again in six months,” Banham said with a laugh.

Banham said he is confident about future growth in Blaine. He said the city government was at one point worried that there would not be enough infrastructure to support new development. But with the Lighthouse Point Water Reclamation Facility now operational and other utility improvements made, Banham thinks the city will continue to grow and downtown businesses will continue to expand.

“I will watch from a distance, but I think the ship is launched,” Banham said. “It’s going to set sail.”

Banham’s favorite part of his job was being able to look at a completed project and see that it’s better. He said some of his greatest accomplishments would most likely not be noticed by the average person, such as the improvements to Blaine’s utilities he has been involved with over the years.

Working for the city of Lynden will be different in that the city does not have its own electric utility, like Blaine does. Lynden also has a proposed water reclamation facility coming down the pipe, and Banham will most likely be involved in that project from the very beginning. Funding for the project, which is still in the design phases, has yet to be completely sorted out.

Banham said he can go on to the job in Lynden feeling like he accomplished something in Blaine. Part of his decision to take the Lynden job now was that the city is not in the middle of any large-scale projects.

Though Lynden will offer him a variety of new opportunities, Banham said he’ll still keep an eye on how Blaine develops. After he leaves, Banham said he will miss his colleagues in Blaine city government the most.

“There’s been such a collegial relationship for these many years,” Banham said. “The people you work with will be missed the most.”