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Change At The Top Greeson Fired, Dunford Hired
Call it 'irreconcilable differences' or just a change in direction ... either way, Escalon and its longtime City Manager Greg Greeson have parted ways.

Greeson was fired on Thursday, Oct. 1 and Police Chief Doug Dunford was named interim city manager.

"Mr. Greeson and the city have agreed to separate employment," Dunford said, noting that Greeson was given the option of resigning or being fired.

"Greg had different philosophical views on where the city should go as opposed to the council," Dunford said on Friday. "The city wishes Greg the best in his future endeavors and the city will continue to move forward."

Dunford, meanwhile, said he is excited about his new role and is eager to work with the council and community.

"Right now I'm going to be wearing two hats, for the next three to six months," he said of the interim period where he will serve both as police chief and city manager. "I'm very blessed, we're lucky that we have great department heads ... I'm seeing my position here more as a prime communicator to the City Council, making sure issues are dealt with swiftly and appropriately."

Some of that, in fact, is what council members point to as why they chose to let Greeson go. This year's city budget was long delayed and some councilmen said they grew increasingly frustrated with Greeson's frequent absences during the tough budget process.

"I don't think he wanted to deal with it," councilman Ed Alves said of working with a budget and finding ways to make up a deficit this year. "I think he had some emotional ties to staff, that's what I believe, and I think he just didn't want to deal with it."

Furlough days were required and some unfilled positions were left unfilled, though no city employees were laid off during the budget process.

"Hopefully we can keep the city moving forward," added councilman Gary Haskin.

Newest council member Jeff Laugero agreed that it was difficult doing a budget when answers weren't ready available.

"For me, personally, I was frustrated with the whole budget situation and I was hearing from the community and all that it seemed like it was time for a change in leadership," Laugero said.

Greeson, who served the city as manager for six years and was assistant manager for almost three years before that, said he has nothing but good memories to take with him.

"I'm going to miss everybody, the council, the community, the people I worked with," Greeson said. "I'm thankful for the opportunity."

Greeson added that there were a number of projects he was proud to be a part of during his tenure, including the renovation and reopening of the Community Center and the development of the new Civic Center facility.

"Our turnover rate has been next to nothing," he added of staff stability. "I think the City of Escalon is set up for the future."

He will take some time to evaluate where he wants to go and what he wants to do next, with a six-month window for him to re-finance or sell the house that he was able to purchase on a low-interest loan from the city as part of his original employment agreement.

"I'm going to take the first real vacation I've had in a few years," he said of his immediate plans.

Dunford said the average tenure for city managers is about four years, so perhaps the change was bound to come, whether or not there were budgetary issues and other concerns.

"Maybe now the fit was not as good as it once was," Greeson agreed.

For his part, Dunford said he is digging in, learning all he can about the various city departments and meeting regularly with the council and department heads.

"I'll be leading an organization that has very dedicated workers," Dunford said.

Like he did with the police department, getting them involved in 'community oriented policing,' Dunford said he wants the city staff to get more involved in community events as well.

Council members said Dunford will serve as the interim manager for anywhere from three to six months, with a review due to determine if he - and they - want him to continue in the job after that time.