Originally created 09/30/97

Huggins named Aiken assistant city manager



AIKEN - City of Aiken officials have recruited one of their own to take over the job as assistant city manager.

Bill Huggins confirmed Monday that he will assume the job left vacant by Frances Thomas, who resigned her position in early July. City Manager Steve Thompson is expected to make an official announcement today.

Letters announcing the hiring of Mr. Huggins were sent out Friday to Aiken City Council members, Mr. Thompson said.

More than 120 applicants had applied for the job, many of whom were local residents.

Mr. Huggins has been a city planner for three years, tackling controversial issues such as annexation and helping to overhaul the city's Comprehensive Land Use plan.

City officials voted unanimously last May to stop requiring people purchasing property in "doughnut holes" - pockets of county property surrounded by city land - to sign an agreement to be annexed into Aiken in order to receive city services.

The decision came in the wake of complaints from city and county residents who said it was a form of forced annexation.

Mr. Huggins was also active in helping revamp the Comprehensive Land Use plan, which acts as a guide to land use helping dictate where the city should grow, where industry should be located and where new roads should be built. It also provides the legal basis for land development regulations.

A six-year career ended for Ms. Thomas, who stayed on through Sept. 4, just as the Aiken Municipal Airport was coming into fruition and nearly three months after Aiken was named an All-America City.

During her stay in Aiken, Ms. Thomas, 39, helped with the development of Aviation Business Park, located near the airport, bringing a corporate hangar to the facility and cleanup of the nearby Aiken Youth Correctional Facility.

With her guidance, an aviation-related business recently located at the airport - an area that hadn't seen any growth in nearly 30 years.

Ms. Thomas was also instrumental in helping Aiken earn the All-America City designation. She took an active role in Aiken's presentation in June at the competition in Kansas City, Mo. The city was named one of the 10 winners of the prestigious award.