WAYNE – It’s been 17 years since Wakefield-native, Lowell Johnson became the city administrator of Wayne. Johnson had worked as a salesman for Michael Foods and was, at one time, Wakefield’s city administrator, but in 2000, he and his wife Kathy started to look for opportunities outside Wakefield.
“We looked around and I looked at a couple of other towns and Wayne is a free-standing, entrepreneurial, little town,” Johnson said.
That entrepreneurial spirit, or restlessness, as Johnson calls it, has driven the current growth that Wayne residents are experiencing, and that’s something city administrators take pride in. With change comes challenges and solving them is something Johnson will miss.
“Every day there’s some challenge of some kind, but some of them get kind of complicated and some of them are risky and some of them are expensive. We just get everybody in a room that’s involved and we come out with some kind of plan. I’ll miss that challenge of figuring out what we’re going to do,” Johnson said.
Throughout 17 years of service in the Wayne community, Johnson has formed close relationships with those he works with. He’s been working with his replacement, former director of the Wayne Economic Development Office, Wes Blecke and is confident the transition will be smooth thanks to Blecke’s well-established abilities.
“It’s hard to help people understand how all the little decisions everywhere add up to big stuff and he’s able to keep his eye on so many multiple things all at the same time,” Johnson said.
Seeing the current housing growth and seeing an increase in younger downtown business owners are listed among Johnson’s career highlights, while the tornado was a memorable challenge the City faced. He isn’t really slowing down in retirement, though. Johnson has plans that include volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, substitute teaching and more.
“We’ve got four grandkids in Wakefield that are playing ball and it looks like they’re going to play in every sport so that’ll be a lot of time. Kathy and I have traveled a lot, we’ve been in most major places in the U.S. and we’ll travel some more,” Johnson said.
After 17 years on the job, Johnson shared some parting wisdom.
“Stay restless and never be satisfied,” Johnson said.