County manager resigning

By Ryan Lengerich: CNJ staff writer

After 15 years as Curry County manager, Geneva Cooper took a deep breath and read aloud her resignation to the commission Tuesday.

Cooper has worked for the county 18 years. She announced her resignation effective Dec. 17.

“I think it is just time I retire and pursue some other avenues,” Cooper said.

The county manager is appointed by county commission
members, not elected. The commission will take applications for the job through 5 p.m. Oct. 22.

Cooper said she will provide the board input in the search process, and said the board hopes to have a new manager in position by her departure.

Born in Portales, the 61-year-old Cooper moved to Clovis about 30 years ago, she said. She plans to spend more time with her two sons and four grandchildren.

Cooper said she had never entertained resigning prior to this year and wanted to leave when the time was right.

“I never wanted to go out when there was any hint of anything wrong, and I think it is evident everything is smooth,” she said. “It’s always been my goal to leave the county in good shape.”

She said the county is facing “hot issues,” the next county manager will encounter.

“The jail took a tremendous blow to our budget,” she said. “We were one of the counties that had a surplus, but because of the detention facility we no longer have reserves.”

County Commissioner Tim Ashley said Cooper notified the board last week of her intentions. The board held a 2 1/2 hour closed-door session Tuesday to discuss plans for the transition.

“I think her greatest characteristic is that she has been a hands-on manager, she’s not just a figurehead,” Ashley said. “That is something I would like to look for in her replacement.”

Cooper said she will be working with the county attorney to create an application and establish job requirements.

Cooper will leave behind a staff that she refers to as her “family.” Budget analyst Bernice Baker has worked under Cooper since 1990, and heard Tuesday of her resignation.

“I’m going to miss her, she’s taught me a lot,” Baker said. “We’ve been together 14 years. We are like a family.”

Ashley said Cooper will be difficult to replace.

“You hate to lose a key person like that,” Ashley said. “I certainly understand her situation wanting to spend more time with her grandchildren and husband and so forth — and enjoy life. I’m a little bit jealous of that.”