By Bill Duffield
December 12, 2013
XENIA — City Manager Jim Percival plans to retire at the end of January after a 30 year career in public service of which nearly 23 years were served with the City of Xenia and the city plans to recognize him for his leadership and many contributions at a reception from 4-6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, at the Inner I Gallery at Toward Independence.
“Because of Jim’s exceptional dedication and loyal service to our community, he takes with him a piece of Xenia’s history; his intimate knowledge of many years of City initiatives, projects, and events,” Mike Engle, Xenia city council president, said. “Xenia’s operations under Jim’s leadership have been rock-solid, steady, and sure. I’m very thankful for Jim’s many years of service to our community and wish him and his family all the best as he embarks on a new chapter in his life.”
Percival came to the city in Jan. 1987 as the Assistant City Manager after serving as the Assistant Accounting/Budget Manager for the City of Springfield. In May 1999, Percival was appointed City Manager. He later accepted a position with the City of Clayton as the Director of Service and Economic Development but was called back to his hometown to take over the reins once again and finish out his career as City Manager with the City of Xenia.
“I have truly enjoyed serving the citizens of Xenia,” Percival said. “Xenia is my home and a community that I love.
“I believe there are many great opportunities for our city both in the short and long run,” he continued. “The mayor, city council and staff are as good of a group of people that I have ever had the pleasure to work with in my entire career and I know that they are poised to take advantage of the opportunities to make Xenia a great city.”
There are many notable projects for which Jim provided leadership and guidance during his tenure including, but not limited to, the following:
• The renovation and expansion of the current City Hall and the City Service Center, as well as the site selection for the new City Hall;
• Many roadway developments, such as the construction of South Progress Drive, extension of Industrial Boulevard, and the North Detroit Street reconstruction; and the expansion and upgrade of both wastewater treatment plants;
• Construction of Xenia Station, which is the landmark hub for four connecting bike paths;
• Work on tax levies to fund police and fire services and street improvements;
• Completion of the West Main Street Enhancement Project, Jamestown Connector Bike Path and Tunnel, 20-inch water transmission main along North Detroit Street, and most recently, the Shawnee Park Improvement project;
• Establishing a partnership with Central State University resulting in EMS and Fire Protection contractual services;
• Environmental Remediation Projects for Hooven & Allison and Athletes in Action;
• Development of the City Vision Plan and the recent development of the X-Plan; and
Under Percival’s leadership and direction, the city attracted over 25 new businesses, creating approximately 550 jobs and investing more than $71.7 million in our community. The city also received more than $5.2 million in Clean Ohio funding between assessments and grants.
Since the beginning of Percival’s tenure, many new residential developments modernized the city’s housing stock, including Wright Cycle Estates, Summerbrooke, Kinsey Meadows, Sterling Greene, Fairmoor and Timber Ridge. Other developments include Athletes in Action and the Legacy Campus, Deer Creek apartments, and growth at the Industrial Park.
Percival said his most vivid memory he can recall from his tenure at the city is the 2000 tornado.
“That event will have a lasting effect on me — not because of the destruction or the damage — but from the positive things I observed in the days and weeks that followed,” Percival said. “Our community came together in ways that only Xenia can.
“Everyone pitched in to make sure that all of the needs of the community were met,” he continued. “As a community, we were able to insure that services continued to be provided along with all of the recovery efforts. I do believe that is one of the things that makes Xenia special.”
Percival not only guided the city through the day-to-day recovery efforts following the aftermath of that tornado, he also oversaw the Project Impact Program, a FEMA program designed to mitigate effects of future disasters. Xenia became the first to be designated as a Project Impact Community immediately following the disaster. He also provided oversight for the Hazard Mitigation Program that partially funded tornado safe rooms.
Percival has also served in many volunteer capacities, including an Old Fashioned Days committee member, a board member for First Frontier Inc. (Blue Jacket), a Mental Health Board member, a board member for the Xenia Area Chamber of Commerce, the treasurer for the Dayton Area Mayors and Managers, and for over 22 years, he has volunteered at the Community Thanksgiving Dinner.
Although the 2000 tornado may be the most memorable event of his career, Percival said he believes the relationships built over the years are the most important things he will take with him.
“From the first day I walked in the door in 1987, I have been blessed to be surrounded by fantastic people,” he said. “From my original mentor, Dave Spahr, who was the City Manager when I was hired, to the folks who have just come on board in the past few years, I have learned a great deal.
“Each of us has our own unique abilities and strengths, and by working together, we can make our community as great as it can be. I have always believed that our people, citizens, council members, and employees are the greatest resource.”
Percival said that Xenia’s diversity has, at times, made it difficult to come to agreement on issues. But he feels it has also created an atmosphere where unique opinions were always heard, making for decisions to be made in the best interest of the community.