Lanny Sloan, Star Valley's new town manager, said his job involves a lot of guesswork. It's the most challenging aspect of overseeing local government, especially of a town that only recently came into being.
"A lot of people don't get involved and let the town know what they want and need," Sloan said. "If the people don't get involved, the town manager will move the town where he thinks it needs to go and that's not right."
The Star Valley Town Council announced Sloan's hiring as town manager during its regular meeting April 4.
"He's right up to speed," Councilor Chuck Heron said. "He seems to know his way around what has to be done."
After 22 years of civic service in small towns throughout the western United States, Sloan is a municipal pro.
He said he enjoys working with elected officials and making progress.
Born in Colorado and raised in Utah, Sloan moved to Idaho in his early 20s.
Sloan, dressed casually in a patterned short-sleeved button-up and khaki slacks, defines his career as serendipitous progression of better positions to nicer regions.
"Transitions have always been easy for me," he said.
Sloan's municipal calling started in Jerome, Idaho -- a city of 8,000.
He worked in the engineering department for the Idaho Transportation Department.
When a vacancy opened for the town's public works director, he took the position.
And then his responsibilities dovetailed into the post of town administrator.
A few years into his job, the once-college dropout returned to higher education and received a degree in business administration from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho.
"I like building things," Sloan said. "I like to make things better."
After eight years, Sloan relocated to the briny southern Oregon coast town of Coos Bay. There he oversaw the public works department for four years.
"I was fortunate," Sloan said. "Coos Bay was a step up in training for me. I was fortunate to be able to live on the ocean so it was a matter of doing both -- having a place where I really wanted to live and a job I really enjoyed."
Then it was back to Idaho to a town of 4,800 called Salmon.
Eight years later, when his tolerance for cold weather finally ended, he headed south to warmer climes and to a small town on the Colorado River.
"I followed a job to Parker (Ariz.)," Sloan said. "I bought my first boat. I never owned a boat with a motor before."
Sloan said he found the mixture of communities -- from tribal cultures to river rats -- fascinating.
After four years in Parker, an advertisement for the town manager of Star Valley led Sloan to the Rim Country.
He and his wife Patti, a retired nurse, fell in love with the mountains that reminded them of Idaho and combined with the warm weather they left those same mountains to find.
"I'm an outdoors kind of person," he said. "Hopefully, I'll get back into fishing and hiking."
Sloan now sits behind a large office desk made of dark veneer. The white walls are void of decoration and the carpeted floor is empty save for his desk and two chairs.
But Sloan hopes to fill that office with the experience, the ideas and the involvement of Star Valley's residents while remaining objective.
"Managers stay out of the politics," he said. "I'm here to work for the council and the community. If people have issues, I hope they come in or call."
To contact Sloan, call the town office at (928) 472-7752 or visit 4180 E. Hwy. 260.