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Committee named to find administrator
Search committee includes new governing body members
city roof repairs pic web
The roofs of these City of Great Bend buildings downtown are among those to be repaired after they were damaged by hail. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

 Here’s a quick glimpse at what the Great Bend City Council did Tuesday night:

• Recognized the D.A.R.E. essay contest winners from Lincoln and Park elementary schools.

• Appointed a search committee to complete interviews for a permanent city administrator.

• Tabled approving an agreement with a company to be the city’s information technology (IT) partner. Additional proposals came in and the city administration and council both wanted more time to study the matter. It was noted that serious flaws exist in the city’s technology that need to be addressed.

• Adopted a resolution to change position classifications for the Great Bend Fire Department battalion chiefs from salaried positions to hourly positions. This was a pay equity issue, city Human Resources Director Randy Keasling said. By rank, the battalion chiefs are higher than the captains, but wind up getting paid less for not being compensated for all the hours they work since they are salaried.

The current structure has been in place since 2002, said Fire Chief Luke McCormick. But, it had not been dealt with until now, with a new chief, new HR director and new interim city administrator.

There is room in the city’s budget for the additional costs, officials said.

However, Councilman Brock McPherson was the lone no vote. The other seven members voted yes.

• Tabled acting on a proposal from Wichita Concrete Pipe in an amount not to exceed $149,500 for the repair of the bridge on Park Street east of the city. The council wanted to take a look at other options first.

• Approved a proposal from Washington Roofing in the amount of $233,361 for  the repairs of the foam roofs at the City Auditorium, Great Bend

Recreation Center, City Hall, the Williams Street fire station, all downtown, and the Eighth Street office building at the Great Bend Municipal Airport.

The were all damaged in the May 2017 hail storm. The entire cost will be covered by insurance.

• Approved abatements at: 1522 8th St., accumulation of refuse, owned by Terry Thoren; 1522 8th St., motor vehicle nuisance, owned by Terry Thoren; and 301 Locust St., accumulation of refuse, owned by Antonia Fraire Alvarez.

 A search committee consisting of current city officials and new Great Bend governing body members was selected to complete interviews for a permanent city administrator. This person will take over for George Kolb who was hired as interim administrator last September in the wake of long-time City Administrator Howard Partington’s August retirement.

Mayor Allison appointed Interim City Administrator George Kolb, City Attorney Bob Suelter, Human Resources Director Randy Keasling, Mayor-elect Joe Andrasek, and council members-elect Dan Heath and Jolene Biggs. 

Andrasek and Heath from Ward 1, Biggs from Ward 2, Cory Urban from Ward 3 and Andrew Scott Erb from Ward 4 will officially take office during a special council meeting at 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 8, at City Hall, 1209 Williams St. 

“This is something we really need to get after,” Allison said. “This will take some time.”

The council on Sept. 18, 2017, named Wichita resident Kolb as interim city administrator. Suelter had been acting as the short-term interim city administrator until a more long-term interim administrator could be found. 

Suelter took over after the sudden Aug. 16, 2017, retirement of Partington, who had been with the city for 36 years.

Kolb started on Oct. 9 and his contract runs for six months at $2,015 per week. Either party can terminate the contract with a 30-day notice should the city find a full-time administrator.

City officials said it could take several months to find the ideal candidate for the job. The current contract keeps Kolb on board through March should it be needed.

Kolb is the former city manager for Wichita, resigning in January 2008. He started with Wichita in 2004.

Kolb has worked in municipal government for the past 30 years. Besides Kansas he has worked in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Virginia.

Most recently, he has served as the interim administrator in Valley Center and Wentzville, Mo.

At the time of his retirement, Partington blamed his leaving in large part on the stress created by the controversy surrounding the city and now-resigned Police Chief Cliff Couch.