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New Culver town manager looks forward to working with community

June 14, 2012

New Culver town manager David Schoeff, right, chats with (from left) Kevin Berger and town council members Sally Ricciardi and Bill Githens, at a reception for Schoeff last Wednesday.

When new Culver town manager David Schoeff first visited Culver, it was one of several sites he drove to, to drop off his resume. It was also the place he immediately felt most drawn to.

“I don’t know if it was the atmosphere -- that you see the people and how they interact -- or just the feeling of the town, but it really felt homey,” says Schoeff, who will complete his second week on the job at the end of this week. “I thought, ‘This is where I’d like to be.’

Schoeff, native of Huntington, Indiana, says he still feels that way each time he pulls into Culver.

“I can understand why folks that come here through the summer want to move here later. Obviously it feels like home to them.

“I look forward to working with the community and making Culver even better, if that’s possible,” he adds.

Out of high school in Huntington, David Schoeff earned his Associate’s in Architectural Engineering from ITT Tech in Fort Wayne, moving to Virginia for a time to work but returning to Indiana with a somewhat new direction in mind. He moved to Indianapolis and worked for a civil engineering consulting firm for five years. While there, he met wife Sherrie, though the two had actually both attended high school in Huntington at the same time.

He and Sherrie have been married for 16 years now and have two boys, ages 13 and 16.

“They’ve been a great family,” he says. “They’ve been pretty supportive over this whole thing -- it’s a distance from where I live.”
Schoeff notes he’s been in engineering for 24 years now, in architectural, civil, and mechanical engineering. Hewound up working in Huntington’s engineering department, of which he was director for 12 years.

“I was their go-to guy,” he explains. “I and my department were referred to as ‘the hub.’ We kind of dealt with everything, all the projects. We handled grants, bidding out projects, administering projects -- we just kind of did it all....I enjoy that; I like a challenge.”

Two years ago, Schoeff returned to school, and in a week he’ll have completed his business administration bachelor’s degree from Indiana Wesleyan.

He was looking for a job and ran across the advertisement for Culver’s town manager position.

Pointing out he enjoys “getting dirty,” Schoeff notes he also raises some farm animals for “stress relief” and hopes to relocate them here in Culver.

“I don’t want to be a transient,” he adds.

“I want to be available and active. I was active in a lot of civic activities down in Huntington (and) will probably get back involved with them again (in Culver).”

As a town manager, Schoeff says one goal is to identify areas needing projects and what they might be, in conjunction with town employees, to seek funding.

“One of the things I learned in Huntington is, this is very much like a business, and to a degree it needs to be run like one. You still have certain things you might do or not do, that a business would, but to run a government effectively, it has to be run similar to a business.”

“This being a diverse community -- with the different groups we have -- I think we would more than qualify for a lot of funding options, as we have such as Safe Routes to School, the (INDOT-based) downtown revitalization. As one finishes, I would like to work on getting things modernized and up to date -- looking nice. When you do that...and the folks there have brand new sidewalks and decor and lighting, and a newer-looking street, something about that gives people even more pride. The ones that don’t maintain the buildings as much as they should, speaking generally and not in Culver, they will take more pride in their buildings. They’ll improve their facades, and that does wonders for the values of the businesses and the town as a whole.”

Schoeff adds that, as “an outsider looking in,” he would like to see Culver’s west side (Jefferson Street) gateway beautified, and hopes some projects there can be engaged.

He also hopes to work with the various committees and groups around town to assist in their projects.

“First and foremost, I want to be the go-to guy for the community. If they have issues to discuss, obviously my door’s open. I want to be available to the public for that reason. Those are the people we need to be learning from, and it helps them feel more involved when they have somebody they can go to and talk to -- I feel like I’m that guy.”
He also emphasizes he’ll look to Culver’s town employees for guidance as well.

Schoeff is quick to point out he doesn’t know everything and intends to continue learning and getting to know people.

“As we get down the road, we will start rolling up our sleeves get some things ironed out,” he adds.

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