BY BRIAN McGILLIVARY
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — The city of St. Joseph picked Traverse City's former Manager Richard Lewis as their next city manager.
Lewis led Traverse City for 17 years before he left in 2008 to take a job with the international engineering firm CH2M Hill. Five years in the private sector, including a 14-month assignment in Afghanistan, was enough to convince Lewis he preferred working in city government.
"You take a look back after five years," Lewis said. "I decided I really liked what I did, being in public service."
Lewis said CH2M Hill was a great company with which to work and gave him opportunities he never would have had otherwise, but continuing with the firm would have required him to relocate. Lewis, who still lives in Traverse City, said he also had no interest in going back overseas.
Lewis said he didn't apply for every job, but started selectively looking at a few city manager positions.
"I just felt St. Joseph was a great place ... and I really appreciate the opportunity they are giving me," he said.
The city is located on Lake Michigan across the St. Joseph River from Benton Harbor and has a population of about 8,400 people.
The job offer is pending an official background check and a negotiated contract.