Deric Feacher – City Manager of Winter Haven

Deric Feacher – City Manager of Winter Haven

One City – One Vision

BY TAMMY SEREBRIN

Energetic, enthusiastic and exuberant are only three of the effusive words that could describe Deric Feacher, the new City Manager of Winter Haven, Florida. The first minority to be mayor of the city, he is equally proud of that fact that at age thirty-six, he is one of the city’s youngest, if not the youngest, City Manager in Winter Haven’s 102 year history.

Born and raised in Winter Haven, Deric graduated from Winter Haven High School in 1995 and went to college at Bethune Cookman, graduating with a degree in Political Science and Public Administration. Following graduation, he became Director of Community Relations at Keiser University in Daytona Beach. He enjoyed living near the ocean and commented that “I never thought I would come back to live in Winter Haven, but it is great to be back.”

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Being a devoted family man whose family and wife’s family live in Winter Haven, he helped move his grandmother to Winter Haven in 2001 and stayed. He became the Supervisor for the Winter Haven Recreation and Cultural Center. After 2-1/2 months in the job, he told his supervisor, “If I am going to stay here (in Winter Haven); in ten years I am going to be City Manager.”

He was only off in his time estimate a little, because in February, 2012, he was sworn in as the new City Manager following the retirement of Dale Smith. Prior to becoming City Manager, he served as Assistant City Manager. He had also served as the first Public Information Officer, a position created for him by the mayor at the time.

He was always interested in government and, from an early age, has been goal oriented. During Student Government Day at Winter Haven High School, he was elected Mayor. He also participated in the Florida American Legion Boys State program where he was elected Governor by his peers. As an adult, he remains active in the Boys State organization, having served as its director and as a board member.

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As someone who grew up in the area, returned here, and ascended to the highest appointed position in city government; he strives to be a role model for local young African American males by being honest and upfront; and by proving to them, by example, they can aspire to be whatever they want. His very first job with the City of Winter Haven was at age 16 when Donna Sheehan who has worked with the City for twenty-five years, and is currently Communication/Marketing Division Director, hired him as a summer camp counselor. He is now her boss… and she couldn’t be more proud of him.

At the time of this interview, Deric had been in the job for two weeks. I asked him about his goals as City Manager. The answer: “To be fiscally responsible for the citizens without undermining the quality of service the city provides. To recruit businesses, which will increase our tax base. Even though our City employee numbers have diminished (from 540 to 450) due to budget cuts, I intend to make the budget work with less without cutting back on services.” His vision for Winter Haven is to “create it as a destination and not a pass through. To make it a place people want to stay and work.” He wants people to be aware they can have quality education here all the way through college and be able to have access to high wages and high tech jobs. He stresses the importance of safe streets and neighborhoods, parks and community development, and the need to support small businesses.

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A typical Deric Feacher day starts with exercising at a gym at 5:30 a.m., getting to his office by 7:30 to read emails and go through everything for the day, and then meetings with constituents, department directors, city commissioners. He clocks out at 11:30 every day for lunch at the Outback for a salad and sweet potato. Sometimes lunch includes meetings, but it is always at the same place, same meal. Time to go home at night can be as late as 10:00 p.m. Home includes his son, Jay, age 16, and his wife, Keshia, who works with Department of Children and Family Services.

Deric claims to having “no fear of failure” bolstered by a sign on his desk that states “Failure Is Not an Option; Fear No Man But God.” He believes that one “doesn’t have to be intimidated if one does what’s right.” He says he feels he was appointed captain of a team and hopes to bring a new level of leadership to the team. “This is the job for me.”

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