New administrator takes helm
WORTHINGTON -- With a stack of personnel policies on his desk and still barren walls, new Nobles County Administrator Thomas Johnson spent his first day on the job Monday filling out forms and getting around to each of the county office buildings in Worthington.
Johnson made the trek from Colorado to Worthington over the weekend with his wife, Becky, their oldest daughter, Mindy, and granddaughters Cora and Mattie. They are renting a home in the Glenwood Heights addition, with plans to ultimately purchase a home here.
Both Minnesota natives -- he from St. James and his wife from New Ulm -- Johnson said he's glad to be back in Minnesota and is looking forward to his new role with Nobles County.
"I think it's going to be just a great opportunity," he said of his new role in Nobles County. "The people have been just wonderful. I'm hoping to bring the stability they're looking for."
Formerly the managing director of the Eagle County (Colo.) Public Works department, Johnson has experience working with a multitude of county agencies.
"I acted as county manager whenever they went on vacation," he said, adding that he oversaw 10 departments during his day-to-day workload.
In Eagle County, Johnson oversaw facilities operation and maintenance, project/construction management, solid waste, recycling, roads and bridges, weeds and pests, fleet services, emergency management and geographic information systems (GIS).
He's hoping his experience will help advance Nobles County, which is in the midst of several capital improvement projects and discussions on a potential new library.
"I'm looking forward to moving the library project forward," Johnson said.
Also at the top of the list is building relationships with county employees and city officials -- a goal Johnson has worked towards in the past.
"The situation (here) doesn't sound that different from what I came into in Colorado," he said. "They wanted a friendly, more open environment and they've had a lot of successes. I hope to continue those here.
"My No. 1 goal is to help my staff succeed," he added. "If they do well, that means we're doing OK."
Johnson said he was intrigued by the administrator job in Nobles County not just because it provided a way to be closer to home -- his mother, a brother and a sister still reside in St. James -- but because the job offered "plenty of opportunity."
With a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, he said his degree field was "all about efficiencies" and making things work better and easier.
"We've got to figure out how to do the work without the funding, and that's happening in every county in the country," Johnson said. "That creates opportunity and some urgency."
Johnson earned minors in math and computer science, and his master's degree is in manufacturing systems engineering from the University of St. Thomas.
The Johnsons have been married for nearly 35 years and have five adult children. In addition to Mindy, they include Christy (Ray), of Savannah, Ga., Carri (Cameron), of Fargo, N.D., Roby of Eagle, Colo., and Josh (Mary) of Longmont, Colo. The couple has seven grandchildren ages 4 and younger, and an eighth grandchild due next month. When she arrives, they will have seven granddaughters and one grandson.
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.