Gresham village leader moving on

Bahr also manages local utility system

Gresham Village Administrator Art Bahr is stepping down after eight years in a job that combines overseeing the village government and managing the local electric utility.

Bahr, 52, announced Friday that he will resign his position with the village, effective July 8, to move into the private sector.

The Gresham native called it bittersweet to give up a job working for his hometown village, but he said the private sector opportunity is significant.

He will become operations manager for Renewable World Energies LLC, a Michigan-based company that operates hydroelectric power plants similar to those in Gresham.

“It’s a good career move for me,” he said. “It is a very challenging assignment with the potential of great rewards.”

Village Board members plan to meet next week to begin the process of searching for a new administrator.

Village President Ken Beyer said he hopes to have the position filled within 45 or 60 days, although he said it will be difficult to find someone capable of replacing Bahr.

“I hope we can find someone who can do the work he did,” Beyer said. “I tried to talk him into staying, but he’s going to better himself.”

Bahr, who previously worked for the Green Bay-based utility Wisconsin Public Service, holds the dual titles of Gresham village administrator and manager of the village-owned Gresham Municipal Utilities. He oversees hydroelectric dams on the Red River that generate electricity for the community’s estimated 600 residents.

His village salary of $68,000 a year covers both jobs.

Since assuming the village position in 2008, Bahr led a lengthy process of renewing Gresham’s federal permit to operate the hydroelectric system, which is now authorized for another 30 years. He also handled upgrades to a wastewater treatment plant and the introduction of automated meter reading for water and electric service.

Former Village Board member Pat Hoffman said Gresham is losing a talented and forward-thinking administrator who, as a hometown native, always seemed to have the village’s best interests at heart.

“He knew the village. He knew the people,” Hoffman said, “and he really was working to make the village better.”

In his new job, Bahr said he will be working from home, so he and his family will not have to leave Gresham. Being a local native, he said, and having an opportunity to serve the community was his “pride and joy.”

Bahr extended thanks to village employees and others who supported his work for the village.

“I will sincerely miss the partnerships and associations that have been formed,” he said. “It is my hope that our progress continues and our support networks stay strong.”