Ashland Public Works Director has submitted a letter of resignation after 10 years on the job.

Brown said on Wednesday afternoon that her last day at work will be Dec. 4. The time frame for her departure should allow the city of Ashland adequate time to find a replacement, she said.

Brown, 46, said she is leaving her job to spend more time with her family and to continue her service in the military.

Her husband, Patrick Flannery, recently retired from his post as Ashland Community Hospital Foundation director. Her mother lives in Ashland.

"Priorities change," she said. "My priority is my family."

A captain in the U.S. Navy Reserves, Brown left Ashland in January 2005 and returned in June 2006 from a mission to Iraq where she led 1,500 people charged with building base camps for Iraqi security forces.

Brown has served for 25 years in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Navy Reserves. She said she spends about five or six days each month on her military duties. She does not know whether she will be redeployed to Iraq.

During her time in Ashland, Brown oversaw a number of major infrastructure projects, including an upgrade to the sewage treatment plan, a redesign of Siskiyou Boulevard and improvements to the water distribution system.

Ashland City Councilor Kate Jackson said Brown is an excellent engineer who can explain projects in layman's terms. Because the city provides many services that other small cities do not, Brown had to be knowledgeable in a broad number of areas, from street maintenance to management of the water system, Jackson said.

Replacing Brown will be a challenge, not only because of the expertise needed, but because Ashland has had problems attracting city department heads during some recent recruitment efforts because of high housing costs, Jackson said.

But Jackson said she can understand Brown's desire to spend more time with her family and on her military career.

"I have the utmost respect for her and her choices. I have real respect for her military service. She could have resigned and not gone to Iraq," Jackson said.

Mayor John Morrison said it will be a challenge, but he believes the city will have time to find someone of the right caliber to fill Brown's position.

"It's always difficult to fill a position when it's held by someone of her quality. She's highly knowledgeable. But we'll go out and find someone to do a good job. She has a good department in place. Paula developed a staff that is very knowledgeable and works well as a team," Morrison said. "When she was in Iraq, the department functioned well while she was gone. That's a sign of a good manager."

Ashland Finance Director Lee Tuneberg said Brown will be missed by her colleagues both professionally and personally.

"She's led the largest department with the biggest impact on the budget &

and done so while being professional even while under fire or gone serving her country," he said. "She has worried about the future of the city and what she and her department can do to make things better. She'll be greatly missed and her shoes will be very hard to fill."

While Brown was in Iraq, resident Art Bullock sued the city of Ashland in Jackson County Circuit Court, contending that the city used incorrect cost-sharing percentages on a Nevada Street improvement project. He argued neighbors and developers should have paid more of the cost under city rules. Brown owns property in the improvement area.

The city paid an additional $19,426 by taking on a larger share of the $295,838 project, according to city records.

Project Manager Jim Olson said in May that he and Brown talked together and classified the project as a sidewalk improvement project because 80 percent of the work involved sidewalks. The city had also classified a similar and adjacent project on Helman Street as a sidewalk project to try and be fair, he said.

City rules call for different cost-sharing formulas based on the type of project that is done.

Reached Wednesday, Bullock said he had no comment about Brown's resignation.

Brown said her decision to resign had nothing to do with Bullock.

Staff writer can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.