“One of the most rewarding aspect of my job is being able to help someone with a tough problem to find a workable solution that meets their needs,” Grove said. “Also, I work with a great bunch of people and most days it’s fun to come to work, which I find rewarding as well.
“Like any job, one difficult part of this job is the criticism that inherently comes with it. In fairness, in those instances it (criticism) is generally deserved because of a mistake or miscue. We aren’t perfect but we are doing a lot of things right. One must not overlook the fact that with criticism and conflict come the opportunity to change the status quo. Not much about what we do is business as usual. We are constantly looking for ways to improve … particularly in those, not too often, instances when we make mistakes.”
Name: Sam Grove
Occupation/title: City manager, city of Cartersville
City of residence: Cartersville
Family: Married for 33 years to Debbie, a teacher with Rollins Child Development Center. We have two sons, Luke, age 28, who is married to Melissa and they have a 1 1/2-year-old daughter named Magnolia Jane, and live in Chicago; and Joe, age 26, who resides in Cartersville.
Education: MPA (1979) and BSPA (1979), Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs
How and when did you initially begin working with the city and have you always wanted to work as a city manager?
A: I started working for the city of Cartersville in 1996. I answered an ad in a trade publication and came to Cartersville to interview for the position. I am told, by those that interviewed me, that “on paper” I was ranked fairly low before the interview. We “clicked” in the interview and I was offered the job. As I rode across the bridge with my family near downtown, I thought, I could work here and be happy. As one door closes, another opens. Sometimes life is just that simple.
When we came here I had been city administrator in Branson, Mo., for 11 years. What attracted us to Cartersville was its proximity to a major metropolitan area (Atlanta) and its similarities to Branson in terms of climate and environment. The community has the “feel” of the community in Indiana where Debbie and I grew up.We have found that Cartersville isn’t “cliquish,” but is very inclusive.
Regarding work, the planning relative to growth that had been done here was and is an attraction, as well as the work that had been done in the city’s utilities. This city has passionate and professional people on staff and employees that you don’t typically find in other cities of this size. My interaction with them was important in making the decision to come here and it is their work that continues to take much of the difficulty out of my job.
Cartersville also has engaged and sensible leadership in the many mayors and city council members that I have worked with as well as in the dozens of volunteers that staff city and community boards/commissions. These folks each have their own passions about this community and care deeply about where they live. Not every community has that and it is infectious and inspiring.
I began working in city management in a large city in Texas where I worked on the city manager’s staff. I have always had a desire to serve and to make a difference in the lives of others. I realized during my time in Texas that I could best help people solve problems and cut through“red tape” in this position. That is one of the main reasons that I continue to be drawn to this line of work. The city of Cartersville touches more lives in this community by providing the services that we do than almost any other entity I can think of. It is a high calling to work in this community in this capacity; I continue to be flattered and humbled to serve in Cartersville.
Could you briefly explain the role a city manager plays in the community?
A: The city manager is the local CEO that is responsible for the daily operation of the city, which includes all services that the city provides. This position serves at the will of city council by working with them to implement policies that they develop and adopt.
What do you consider your greatest personal or professional achievement?
A: My greatest achievements are that I am a husband, father and now a grandfather and that I live my life in a manner that makes my mom and dad proud of me.
Is there any particular goal you would like to accomplish/see the city accomplish?
A: While I could list many projects and programs here, I’d like to make sure that when the time comes that I am no longer city manager that I leave Cartersville in better shape than when I first came here; that I am a good steward of the city’s resources and the trust placed in it by the citizens of Cartersville; and that the gains accomplished will be retained. The city always strives to perform a little better than we have in the past. We continually improve our processes and systems as we endeavor to meet the needs of the community. It is my hope that Cartersville continues to retain the things that make it unique.
What would most people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I am an avid Indiana University basketball fan. I was on campus as a student the last time IU went undefeated to win the national championship. That was also the last time that any men’s NCAA basketball team was undefeated and went on to win the national title. I have a courtside seat — literally six rows up from the floor — for Indiana’s last home game this season in Bloomington, Ind. I also have tickets to the Men’s NCAA Final Four in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome and I sure hope my Hoosiers are there, too.
Where is your favorite place to be inBartowCounty?
A: Near the Etowah River in Sam Smith Park or on Pine Mountain … either place, at sunset with Bull, my golden retriever.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
A: Building trust is similar to putting pennies in a jar one at a time. For every good thing you do, you add a penny. For every mistake you make, dump the jar out and start over.
Never do anything that you aren’t comfortable seeing or hearing in the local news. Character is who you are when no one else is watching … and someone is always watching.
Do you have a personal philosophy?
A: Fortunately, many of the difficult things that most of us tend to occupy ourselves with never come to pass. Those “out of the blue” occurrences that affect all of us can never be anticipated. While it is not always the answer that we are looking for, most things in life turn out as they should.