By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Elke Doom of Michigan is busy with her move to Mercer County, but she took time Thursday to stop in Princeton and sign the contract that makes her that city’s new manager.
Doom and her husband, Bruce, came to Princeton from their current home at Huron Charter Township in New Boston, Mich., to finalize their moving preparations. After stopping at the Princeton Municipal Building to sign her contract, Doom spoke about her background and what led her to apply for the job.
“Originally, I came from Germany,” she recalled. Her father’s search for work took the family to Pennsylvania, New York and finally to Michigan. Now she’s getting ready to move again.
For the last four years, Doom has been the supervisor/manager of a Michigan community.
“It’s mailing address is New Boston, but it’s actually the Huron Township,” Doom said.
Huron Township is a community with 36 square miles that is home to 16,000 residents. Three villages are within the township along with farmers and people with estates ranging from five to 10 acres. It is different from Princeton, but “incredibly beautiful,” Doom said.
The mountains around Princeton are beautiful, and the Princeton community is impressive, too, Doom stated. She met with Mayor Pat Wilson, city employees and other local leaders, then visited local landmarks such as the new Princeton Public Library on Mercer Street.
“When I spoke with the mayor and I met with the department heads, the administrator of the hospital and lots of other people, I saw how they constantly interacted. They talked about their goals and moving forward,” Doom said. “They showed me the library, and I saw how beautiful the library is. It is a testament to the strength of the community.”
Doom was asked why she chose to apply for the job of Princeton city manager.
“That’s the first question I was asked when I was interviewed. The ad that they placed had caught my eye,” she recalled. “It stated that it was a progressive city, and the word progressive caught my eye and led me to do a bit of research. I went on the Internet and tried to learn as much as I could about the city and about the area. I read as much as I could, and when I finished reading, I thought this might be the type of community I would like to work in.”
Looking at projects such as the plan to renovate the former First Community Bank building on Mercer Street and turn it into a new municipal building showed that the local leaders are progressive and willing to take risks when they feel it is necessary, Doom said.
“All and all, the whole package just felt right,” she added.
Making the move from Michigan to West Virginia is natural for Doom. Her family moved frequently while she was growing up.
“I think I moved nine times by the time I was 12, so moving is nature. It’s just second nature,” she said.
Doom’s husband took an early retirement buyout from the Ford Motor Company, plus he is an electrical contractor who can work anywhere in the country. Their children are living on their own.
“I have three adult daughters. Only one is in Michigan and she would like to leave. The other two, one’s in Ohio and one’s in Australia. So it’s not that I have the family ties. My entire family is still in Germany except my dad. And he’s in Florida,” she said.
“We realized a few years ago that there was nothing that was really tying us to Michigan. We had been there because we had to be, and we were at the point where we have the freedom to choose where we would like to live next. That just opened up the entire country for me.”
Doom became a certified public manager at Saginaw Valley State University. She earned a Masters Degree in Public Administration and a Bachelors Degree in Business Management at Siena Heights University, and an Associate Degree in Property Assessment Administration and an Associate Degree in Business Management from Henry Ford Community College.
Besides attending universities and a community college, Doom has participated in professional training and development seminars. The most recent ones she attended include the John F. Kennedy School of Government — Senior Executives in State & Local Government, 2012, presented at Harvard University, and the Excellence in Governance Certification Program, 2012, at the Michigan Town Governance Academy.
Doom visited communities around the country — with Princeton as her first stop — before she decided to accept the offer in Princeton.
“I just felt there was a comfort level here. I like the people. I’ve been through the stores and I’ve met a lot of people, and I think I like the way you live down here,” she said.
Doom will begin her duties on Jan. 15, 2013.
Besides being the new city manager, Doom is also the city’s first female city manager, said Mayor Pat Wilson.
“I feel she will blend in here and work well with the employees we already have,” Wilson said. “She was offered more money at different places, but she chose us and we’re very grateful.”
Wilson thanked Human Resources Manager Wanda Donahue for being the city’s interim manager while the search was underway.
“Whatever I asked for, she was right there,” Wilson said. “She did a fabulous job while she was filling in.”