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City of OKC office building named for outgoing City Manager James D. Couch
Couch is retiring effective 5 p.m. Jan. 2, to be succeeded by Craig Freeman. On his last day as City Manager, the Council honored Couch with a Resolution of Commendation that extolled his exemplary service and announced the building name.
“(Couch) has served as a true public servant and a mentor to countless other public servants, and it is most appropriate that a lasting commemoration be made,” the Council said in its resolution.
The building is at 420 W Main Street downtown, and did not previously have a formal name. It’s home to a majority of the City of Oklahoma City’s administrative staff, and where Couch had his office before moving a block north to City Hall upon his appointment as City Manager in 2000.
The building’s new name, the James D. Couch Municipal Office Building, will be marked with a sign. The sign has not yet been designed, but will comply with applicable historic preservation and zoning requirements.
Couch was appointed City Manager on Nov. 9, 2000. He has since served with honor and distinction as the City’s chief administrative officer, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the City of Oklahoma City, its staff of 4,804 employees and its budget of $1.57 billion.
Securing Oklahoma City’s long-term access to dependable water sources for generations to come will perhaps be Couch’s most enduring legacy. Couch, through his position as City Manager and also as a trustee of the Water Utilities Trust, led negotiations that secured rights to water in Canton Lake and Sardis Lake for Oklahoma City.
The complicated, lengthy negotiations regarding Sardis Lake ended with a landmark agreement in 2016 between the City, state of Oklahoma and Chickasaw and Choctaw nations. The agreement protects the needs of water users in southeast Oklahoma.
Couch was also a key figure, along with former Mayor Mick Cornett, in negotiating agreements with two NBA franchises – the New Orleans Hornets during their temporary, two-year relocation to Oklahoma City from 2005-07, and the Thunder before their permanent move here in 2008.
The NBA came to what is now known as Chesapeake Energy Arena, one of the crown jewels of the MAPS program investments overseen by Couch during his tenure. Couch was an Assistant City Manager and the MAPS Director for 2 ½ years preceding his appointment as City Manager, and has since shepherded the planning and implementation of MAPS for Kids, MAPS 3 and the current Better Streets, Safer City program.
Couch succeeded former City Manager Glenn Deck, who resigned after a little more than 2 ½ years in the position. Before serving as Assistant City Manager and MAPS Director, Couch was the Water and Wastewater Utilities Director for 11 years. He also serves or has served as a trustee or general manager of the Airport Trust, Zoological Trust, Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority Board of Trustees , Metropolitan Area Schools Trust, Riverfront Redevelopment Authority, Economic Development Trust and McGee Creek Authority.
In Oklahoma City’s Council-Manager form of government, the City Council hires a City Manager to oversee day-to-day operations. The Mayor, who is elected at large, and one member from each of Oklahoma City’s eight Wards form the Council.
Couch is the current Chairman-elect of the United Way of Central Oklahoma Board of Directors, and will serve as its chairman next year.
Before coming to Oklahoma City, Couch was the assistant city manager for the City of Edmond. He also worked for the City of Casper, Wyo., and a consulting group with offices in Nebraska, Iowa and Wyoming. He’s a Licensed Professional Engineer with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, and an honorary doctorate in public administration from Oklahoma City University.
Couch earned the Dean A. McGee Award in 2017 for his lifetime contributions to downtown.
Couch and his wife, Cathy, are the parents of two adult sons, Jacob and Joey.
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