Brant Hanson reflects on years of working with ‘great staff’ as manager
By James Tilson
EPHRAIM—Brant Hanson is quick to point out most of his job as the Ephraim City manager has been helping others to do their job well.
“The staff here is great,” he said. “I haven’t worked with a better group of people, ever.”
Hanson started as city manager in 2014, and since then growth has driven most of his concerns. Ephraim has grown at a fairly steady five percent rate since 2014, and that growth has put strains on city infrastructure.
“One of my primary focuses was trying to find funding to improve infrastructure, primarily water,” he said. According to Hanson, while the fact almost all of Ephraim’s water comes from springs is a great thing, 65 percent of the water goes through a tunnel constructed in 1937. If the tunnel ever failed, then the backup well has chronic arsenic issues.
“That worried me,” said Hanson. “With Snow College in town, there are a lot of people relying on us getting this right.”
So, Hanson set about looking for ways to improve the water system and finding new water sources. Over the last three years, Ephraim has received over $3 million in funding for water infrastructure. The funding has not come without cost—the federal agencies require municipalities to have matching funds when receiving grants. As a result, Ephraim had to raise water rates last year. But now the tunnel has been renovated to be safer, and a new well is ready to be drilled as soon as the weather permits.
But even so, Hanson will not accept all the credit. “Most of it is not me, it’s the staff, and giving them the resources they need to be successful.” He said he does his best by inspiring others to do their best. “It’s their department, I’m just pushing from behind.”
Hanson also said the new city manager should lean heavily on the staff to continue the progress already made. “Continue to give them the tools necessary to do what they’re doing.”
Other things a new city manager should think about include economic development. He thinks there should be more focus on improving current business, to help them find funding and look for new incentives for expansion. “It’s not about bringing in Home Depot; it’s about helping Hermansen’s and all of them,” he said.
A new city manager will need to concentrate on “finding the right people for the right seat.” Hanson explained a city manager needs to understand what each employee’s strengths are, and then give the employee duties that focus on those strengths. “I tried to make it so that our employees are excited to come to work every day.”
Infrastructure, like road construction and repair, will continue to be important to Ephraim’s future. Although the city already invests in road repair each year, the underlying issues of usage and drainage will be on-going. “These will be funding issues in the future,” he said.
And lastly, Hanson hopes the new city manager will continue his efforts at “involving the community.” He has been trying to create more community events, outside of church callings and socials. Hanson mentioned working with the new parks and recreation director, Donnie Wood, to have at least one city-sponsored event a month. “Movie at the Park, at the city amphitheater, those kinds of things need to happen more often,” he said. “We shouldn’t just be about the Scandinavian Festival once a year.”