With a population of only 48,000, it may seem surprising to some that Roswell is New Mexico’s fifth-largest city.
But have you ever heard of Spearfish, South Dakota? With a whopping 12,000 residents, it is South Dakota’s 10th largest city.
Spearfish is where Roswell City Manager Joe Neeb worked as a city administrator before he took the job in Roswell last April.
Neeb, who was born and raised a Hoosier, said he likes small towns and that the people of Roswell are great.
“It has midwestern personalities with a southwestern flair,” he said.
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You may have already guessed that the winters in Spearfish are a bit chillier than here in Roswell.
“The weather here is fantastic,” he said.
Neeb has worked in city administration for 20 years. Besides his jobs in Roswell and Spearfish, Neeb said he worked in three small towns in Indiana.
He has both master’s and bachelor’s degrees in business administration and management from Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana, a small town not far from Muncie.
Neeb and his wife Beth recently bought a house in northwest Roswell, where Beth’s mother and one of her sisters live with them.
The Neebs have been married for 35 years. They raised four children and Beth, who now takes care of the homefront, has worked in the banking industry.
Neeb said before he applied for the job, he did a lot of research on Roswell. And the more he researched, the more he liked about the Alien City.
He said the city is going through a renaissance and has support from the City Council.
“I felt like Roswell wanted to get busy in taking care of itself,” he said.
Neeb said one of the benefits of Roswell is the diversity of its economy.
While gas and oil are a big part of both the local economy and regional economy, Neeb said, Roswell’s economy has other aspects that help compensate during the lulls in gas and oil.
“We have hospitals, an airport, that all plays together very well,” he said. “We always have something happening here.”
When asked to describe some of the challenges Roswell has, Neeb said the city needs to promote more of its arts and culture.
“That’s the hidden gem of Roswell,” he said. “That’s a part of the community that doesn’t get recognized as much.”
Neeb said quality of life is especially important to millennials, generally described as individuals from 22 to 37 years of age, who will track down a place where they want to live and then find a job there.
Another thing Neeb said he’d like to see is more housing in the downtown area.
Then there’s that never-ending complaint that there’s “nothing to do” in Roswell.
Neeb pointed out that besides the arts, there are sports and all kinds of activities for kids.
When asked what his hobbies are, Neeb puts being a grandfather at the top of the list.
He has three grandkids in North Carolina and will be visiting them this week.
“Two of them have birthdays in the same week,” he said.
Community News reporter Timothy P. Howsare can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or firstname.lastname@example.org.