Reception planned for retiring Donna Zimmerman
The Barton County Clerk’s Office will host a retirement reception for County Clerk Donna Zimmerman from 2–4 p.m. Thursday. It will take place in the County Commission Chambers, room 106, at the Barton County Courthouse, 1400 Main in Great Bend.
For the first time since 1995, Barton County has a new county clerk. Bev Schmeidler was sworn in Tuesday morning by her retiring predecessor, Donna Zimmerman, at a ceremony in the County Commission chamber.
It was a meeting where commissioners also recognized Zimmerman upon her retirement effective Friday. Her office will host a reception for her from 2-4 p.m. Thursday in the commission chamber.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve Barton County,” an emotional Zimmerman said as she prepared to administer the oath of office. “I am so thrilled to see the office continue in good hands.”
“Congratulations, Bev. You’ll do great,” said commission Chairman Jim Daily, District 4. “Hopefully, you won’t regret it.”
The room was filled with family, friends and coworkers there to support both women. Both received rounds of applause.
Schmeidler’s term begins Jan. 1, 2022. She currently serves as the deputy assistant Barton County clerk.
Zimmerman started her county service in December 1981, working in the Treasurer’s Office, and moving to the Clerk’s Office in 1983. She was appointed clerk by then-Governor Bill Graves in 1995, 26 years ago.
“She has been a rock when it comes to the operations,” said Daily, who also worked with Zimmerman when he was county sheriff. Her work and integrity have made Barton County what it is, he said.
“It has been a privilege to have worked with you,” he said. “I’m speaking for the commission when I applaud you for your services.”
He then presented her with a plaque.
“Our work values stem from our leaders,” Daily said, reading from the plaque, noting these values include “transparency, unwavering dedication, integrity and determination to provide services to our citizens at reasonable cost.”
“You became a leader because these ideals are a part of the fabric of your being,” he read. “Your gentle manner belies steel that is in your convictions. You have, for three decades, helped lead Barton County.
“Elected officials, employees and citizens trust what you say and what you are,” Daily read. “We cannot begin to compile a list of ways of which you have improved Barton County through your efforts. But we can compile a list of our feelings for you; you are appreciated. Your thoughtful suggestions have moved the county forward. You will be missed. And thank you for all that you have done.”
She was also given a clock with the joke that, in retirement, she won’t have to pay attention to it.
Fighting back tears, Zimmerman said she appreciated the commission and the voters who kept her in office.
Schmeidler was selected for the post on the night of Oct. 28 as members of the Barton County Republican Committee met in a convention at the main courthouse courtroom to pick the replacement for Zimmerman.
Schmeidler has spent 31 years with the county, eight in the clerk’s office. She spent her first six years in Communications, then spent time in the County Attorney’s Office and Records Department before moving to work with Zimmerman.
Schmeidler’s husband Jim is a battalion chief for the Great Bend Fire Department.
Zimmerman has three years left on her four-year term. But, due the timing of her retirement, should Schmeidler wish to seek a full term, she will have to file for the midterm election next fall.
She has participated in the transition from paper balloting to Opti-scan ballots, to electronic voting and now back to a hybrid system of electronic and plain paper ballots counted by precinct tabulator. The ever-changing environment is an exciting challenge, she said. In order to keep current with both technology and best practices, Zimmerman attended Wichita State University’s Hugo Wall School of Urban and Public Affairs. Zimmerman completed the seven-year certification training, which included 148 hours devoted to Public Administration, graduating with the designation of master certified county clerk.
Zimmerman served as the president of the Kansas County Clerks’ and Election Officials’ Association as well as president of the South Central Kansas County Clerks’ and Election Officials’ Association. Zimmerman served on the Executive Board of the Kansas Association of Counties as well as the on Executive Board of the Kansas County Officials Association.
Locally, she has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce, and the Board of Directors of the Great Bend Rotary Club.
Originally appointed County Clerk and Election Officer, she then agreed to serve as the county’s Freedom of Information Officer, the county’s Public Information Officer. She also took over the management of the fourth floor Records Department and has served as the assistant county administrator since May 2017.
While she’s enjoyed the challenge, she said these additional duties have worn her down. This helped her opt for retirement now.
Zimmerman is married to husband Ray of 40 years. They have two children: a daughter, Sara Winegarner and husband Larry, Wichita, and a son, Cory Zimmerman and wife Katie, Great Bend.
Zimmerman was born in Larned to a father who was an educator. She moved around the state quite a bit as her dad held jobs with various school districts.
Barton County Commission meeting at a glance
Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Tuesday morning:
• Held a swearing in of new County Clerk Bev Schmeidler. She was sworn in by retiring County Clerk Donna Zimmerman.
• Recognized Zimmerman upon her retirement. She has been employed by the county since 1983 and has served as county clerk since 1995.
• Recognized Personal Property/Appraisal Clerk Ellen Fischer upon her retirement. She has worked in the County Appraiser’s Office since 1992.
• Approved the transfer of $3,931.62 from the Special Alcohol Fund to the All-Stars program. All-Stars is a school-based prevention/intervention program designed to delay the onset of youth engaging in risky behaviors such as substance misuse, bullying, violence and sexual activity.
• Rescinded a motion from last week’s meeting to purchase chairs for the Health Department lobby and exam rooms from Office Products Inc. of Great Bend, and approved a motion to purchase the chairs from Commercial Concepts and Furnishing of Independence, Mo.
After further examining bids from both vendors, it was determined that both proposals included the same brand of product, delivery, setup, and warranty. There were two bids: OPI for $20,072; Commercial Concepts for $15,181.31.
The commission was notified by Grant/Compliance Manager Sue Cooper that since this was being paid for with a federal grant, the county had to take the lowest bid. Both vendors bid the exact same product and the local bid is $4,890.69 more than the low bid.
The department utilized a federal Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Enhancing Detection Supplement Grant.
• Approved the purchase of a wireless door and alarm system from NexTech Security Solutions for an amount not to exceed $5,000.
The Information Technology Department, in cooperation with Purchasing Management, released a request for proposal for this project. The proposal included access control for two doors to the commission chamber and one to the IT Office, and includes a panic button to lock down the doors, IT Director Dereck Hollingshead said.
• Approved a proposal from Alliance Insurance Group for the county’s sandpit sand dredge for $7,427.42.
Barton County received property insurance proposals for the sand dredge for calendar years 2022 and 2023 until Dec. 14, 2021. Alliance presented the only proposal, Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller said.
• Approved the purchase of a used wheel loader for the Barton County Landfill for $129,500 from Murphy Tractor of Great Bend.
Solid Waste maintains approximately two miles of roads within the landfill property. Historically, landfill staff used a skid steer to move rock and relied on Road and Bridge equipment to stockpile rock, Facilities Manager/Solid Waste Director Phil Hathcock said. Landfill management received four bids for a used wheel loader that will be used to more efficiently maintain the roads, move heavy items and stockpile rock.