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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Mitchell likely headed west

Mitchell likely headed west

Economic development director position may be vacant within next few months

The City of La Grande may soon be looking for a new community and economic development director.

Charlie Mitchell’s days in La Grande may be coming to an end as he is a candidate for city manager in Philomath, the Corvallis Gazette-Times reported Wednesday.

Mitchell was the Philomath City Council’s top choice out of three candidates interviewed over the past month and a half, the newspaper reported. The council Wednesday night approved the outgoing city manager to enter negotiations with Mitchell.

Mitchell said on Thursday that the move is family driven. Both he and his wife have family on the I-5 corridor, he said.

“We love La Grande a lot. It has so much to offer people,” Mitchell said. He noted that his family has been dealing with distance since he arrived in La Grande in 2008.

“This opportunity presented itself and so far it looks like that’s where I’m meant to be,” he said, adding that his experiences in La Grande and guidance of City Manager Robert Strope are what enabled him to be qualified for the Philomath city manager position.

He emphasized that the decision to leave La Grande was not based on things going on here.

“I’m not unhappy here,” Mitchell said. “I don’t want anyone to think it’s a reflection on what has or has not happened here.”

Mitchell said he won’t be leaving right away. He intends to stick around for the La Grande City Council’s annual retreat, which councilors use to prioritize topics for the coming year. Strope said it would be vital to have Mitchell’s expertise available at the retreat. 

“We both agreed it’d be valuable for me to be present,” Mitchell said. The retreat will be held within the first couple months of 2014, and La Grande city councilors had already voiced an interest in discussing economic development.

Strope said he’s “really happy” for Mitchell and his family.

“At the same time, it’s going to leave a pretty significant void,” he said. 

Strope said Mitchell’s vision for the La Grande Marketplace resulted in funding for the building. He also noted Mitchell’s leadership with the city’s facade program, the Big H project and with creating program policies for economic development.

“He’s been very committed to La Grande,” Strope said. “While he’s been here, he’s really dedicated himself to making La Grande a better place. Figuring out what we do next, with that sort of track record, will be tough for us.”

The Philomath City Council could approve an employment agreement with Mitchell at its Jan. 13 meeting, according to the Corvallis newspaper. Philomath is a bedroom community of Corvallis, about five miles west of the city. It has a population of about 4,600 people.

Contact Kelly Ducote at 541-786-4230 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Kelly on Twitter @lgoDucote.

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