Joshua Sommer is a Planner for the City of Paducah. He loves his truck and his lovely wife Deanna.  He enjoys visiting zoos with their combined family of five children. iMeet this resolution-making man who is often referred to as “The Cowboy”!

Welcome to iMeet, Joshua. Please share a little about yourself with our iList readers...

I grew up, with my sister, in Hillerman, Illinois on our family farm. I graduated from Joppa High School in 1997. I attended Shawnee Community College in Ullin, Illinois, where I obtained an Associates of Arts Degree in 2000. In 2003 I graduated with a degree in Geography and minor in Geology from Murray State University.

iMeetWe hear you and your wife have a combined family…

Deanna and I have been married for a year and a half. I had four children from a prior marriage – Isaac, Kaylene, Hannah and Johnathan. I now have a step-son, Carson. We have two cats - Baxter and Bill. They are orange tabby cats - one indoor and one outdoor. 

You are the Planner 1 for the city of Paducah. Tell us about what your positions entails...

I am generally the first-person developers speak with for new developments. I relay information in our zoning code regarding parking, landscaping, signs, setbacks and other developmental code information.  Developers need this information in order to produce a site plan, which is a spatial layout of how a site will be constructed. 

I also am the staff person for the Planning Commission and the Board of Adjustment. The Planning Commission handles Waiver of Subdivisions and Parking Waivers primarily and the Board of Adjustment handles variances and conditional use permits primarily. I work closely with other branches of City Governments, especially Fire Prevention and Engineering. I also work with annexations, specific tax moratoriums and food trucks. From time to time I help out in the Section 8 branch of the Planning Department. 

iMeetWhat do you hold as your highest accomplishment in your position so far?

My highest accomplishment has been the shepherding of annexations to fruition. The growth of the City is vital to our all citizens. Since the retail sector of the economy is changing, the City must as well.  

I've heard people refer to you as "The Cowboy". Tell us about how that nickname came about...

It goes back to my roots of growing up in rural Massac County. Plus most of my friends are country folk to one extent or another. On top of that, my attitude is to work hard and try to reach your goals. And yes, my truck is awesome!


Where have you worked before this position?

From June of 2004 to November of 2008, I was the City Planner for the City of Oak Grove in Christian County, Kentucky. That was my first planning position and I loved it very much. Oak Grove is a great City with huge potential. 

iMeetHowever, being from Massac County, I was ready to come back to the area. Growing up, we always came to Paducah to shop, for entertainment, for festivals and other aspects of life. When I was working for Elder-Beerman, I would drive by City Hall and knew I would be working here one day.   

Any goals or resolutions for yourself in 2019? Any goals for the city of Paducah?

My New Year’s resolution is typical… try to get healthier as a family. We have started with the Keto Diet and hopefully will be back to the gym soon. 

As far as Paducah, as far as the projects I am involved in, is to help Paducah be the best – our new mission. I think that the quality of life for all of Paducah’s citizens is important and each land use decision should enhance that quality of life. 

What's the best part of your job? What's the hardest?

The best part of my job – I love seeing a project on paper come to fruition. I love to review the site plans and work with the developers and surveyors. I have gotten to know several of our developers and surveyors, and they are some of the best advocates for the advancement of the City. The City of Paducah staff in all Departments has always been helpful and I enjoy working with everyone here on a day to day basis. 

The hardest part of my job is to educate the public why a land use proposal may not be in the best interest of the City. For example, zoning changes could bring about unforeseen pitfalls that does not advance the City of Paducah’s mission – to be the best. When a land use proposal is not in the City’s best interest, it is sometimes difficult to get the developer to understand that reality.

iMeetWhat do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I love to travel and go hiking. Weekend or day trips have always been a fun thing to do.  Also, there are many great hiking places in the area. Ferne Clyffe State Park, Herron Pond and the Garden of the Gods in Southern Illinois and the Canal Loop in LBL are some of my favorites. 

Tell us three unique things about yourself that might surprise people...

  1. Both my mother and I were Senior Class Presidents of our Senior years at Joppa High School
  2. I am a zoo fanatic!  I love to visit different zoos when I can.
  3. The Purchase Area Walk to Emmaus changed my life in September of 2012. It was a great experience that I can remember to this day and I would encourage anyone to go.

iMeetWhat's your favorite movie of all time? 

Well there are two: Deadpool and II. I love to laugh and every time I watch those movies; I crack up.

Its 10 pm on a Friday night...what might we find you doing? 

Hanging out with my friends around a bonfire most of the year.  During the winter, watching either “Hell’s Kitchen” or “The Man in the High Castle.”  

Well, Joshua, thanks so much for being our iMeet this week. We’re excited about your commitment to make Paducah the Best It Can Be. Good luck with those New Year’s resolutions!