In less than a week, a prolific of Havre community figure is coming home, professionally.
On May 21, Doug Kaercher will begin working as Havre's city clerk and finance director, replacing Lowell Swenson, whose 22-year tenure comes to a close at the end of the month.
"I was extremely happy to have the opportunity to come back, " Kaercher said. "Local government is basically where my heart is. I think local government is the heart of any community, and you need well-managed local government for a community to grow and survive. "
Kaercher learned the joys of local government when he was elected to Havre City Council in 1988. He was one of the council members who appointed Swenson city clerk in 1990.
After five years he left the council when he left Havre and moved into the county. Still wanting to contribute to government, Kaercher ran for Hill County commissioner in 1997 and won.
He held that seat for a decade, until Gov. Brian Schweitzer appointed him to serve on the state Tax Appeal Board, a position he still holds, until Friday.
Aside from his day jobs, Kaercher has also served the community on a number of boards. He's treasurer for Bear Paw Development Corp. 's Board of Directors. He serves or has served on the boards of the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line and the Golden Triangle Community Mental Health Center. He was the president of the Montana Association of Counties for a while.
Now that he's returning to Havre civic life, many of his co-workers, past and present, are excited.
"I think he's got a good understanding of government and the budget process, " Swenson said.
Paul Tuss, executive director of Bear Paw Development, concurred.
"I think Doug will be a wonderful addition to the city of Havre. Doug is one of those people who excels at everything he does. He definitely has a financial mind. He's good with numbers, can pinch a penny into a copper wire.
"He not only understands numbers, but he knows how to explain numbers to non-number people, " Tuss added.
"If you look at his career arc, from city to county to state to city clerk, at virtually every level he's been there and he's done that. I almost can't imagine someone who would be better at that job than Doug Kaercher. "