Cheney Free Press -

By JOHN McCALLUM
Editor 

Chris Grover takes over

Former councilman begins term as Cheney's mayor

 

January 11, 2018

John McCallum

New Cheney Mayor Chris Grover wants citizens to feel they can always talk to him, even if he doesn't have all the answers.

Fifteen years ago, Chris Grover wrote down as one of his goals the desire to be the mayor of the city he has called home since the early 1980s - Cheney.

While his timetable for fulfilling that goal was originally about four years away, the recent retirement of two-term Mayor Tom Trulove sped things up a bit. Grover was elected to replace Trulove this past November, a foregone conclusion since he faced no challengers - something that surprised him.

"I wanted somebody to run, just because I want that competition," Grover, who has operated an Edward Jones financial planning office in Cheney since 2009, said in a Jan. 5 interview.

Born in Germany to military parents in a family that originally hails from Vermont, Grover spent most of his early years moving every two years from stations ranging from the U.S. to Turkey. The family eventually moved to Cheney when he was in the sixth-grade, and Grover went on to graduate from Cheney High School in 1986.

Two weeks after graduation, he was on his way to the U.S. Navy's boot camp in Orlando, Fla. and the beginning of a 23-year military career of his own. Grover spent 11 years as an enlisted man and then 12 years as an officer in the same field he was given when he enlisted - administration.

"I was a paper-pusher, but somebody's got to do it," he said with a chuckle.

As an administrative officer, Grover found himself in charge of almost all logistical aspects of a variety of units. He served shipboard on the aircraft carriers U.S.S. Nimitz and U.S.S. John Stennis managing air squadrons along with lithography units, photography units and more.

"I managed people and paperwork, that was my job," he said.

Onboard the amphibious assault ship U.S.S. Wasp, Grover also served as the debarkation control officer, working to launch and recover air-cushioned assault craft while coordinating with the vessel's helicopter wing to land "the Fallujah guys" during 2004's Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Much of Grover's career focused on U.S. activity in the Persian Gulf. Prior to his retirement in 2008, he was assigned to Gen. David Petraeus's staff in Baghdad where he served as the liaison with Iraq's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, visiting ancient archaeological sites around the country in order to help that country rebuild its economy.

Grover left the Navy with a master's degree, and after retirement, set about looking for a career that would lead him back to Cheney where he wanted to raise his family and run his own business. Casting about for good financial business models, he settled on Edward Jones because it allowed him to get out from behind a desk now and then to work with clients.

Originally slated to run a second Cheney office alongside then-Edward Jones advisor Barry Roach, Grover instead took over the existing office when Roach retired. He entered the public arena serving on the Planning Commission for five years before winning a seat on the City Council by defeating former Councilman Fred Pollard in 2013.

Running for mayor was a continuation of something Grover said he has been doing since age 18 - serving.

"It's just a sense of serving something bigger than me," he said. "I like being involved in the community."

Grover sees several important issues facing Cheney - the first and most important being water. From late fall to spring, the city is able to supply all the water its residents and businesses need with just two wells. It's when the weather begins to heat up in late spring that Cheney faces the imposition of water restrictions, despite adding four wells to the system to handle the increased load from irrigation.

The city is looking at a $1.8 million redrill this year of well No. 3 it hopes will bring that resource back on line, but Grover said there will also need to be a discussion about a water reuse plan.

Grover also lists economic development as an area that needs work, with the need to find some enticements to get businesses to locate in the city. Public safety is an area he said "keeps me up at night," and he hopes to foster relationships with Eastern Washington University police and Spokane County Fire District 3 in order to improve the quality of coverage.

All this while continuing to be fiscally responsible, yet balancing the costs of service with the need to maintain levels of service that add to Cheney's quality of life. Grover said he also wants to start a monthly "Coffee with the Mayor" in order for citizens to speak informally with him about issues they are facing.

"I won't have the answers all the time," he said. "I do want to send a message to the city that I'm approachable."

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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