Taking another step in returning the city back to normal following the controversy involving now-resigned Police Chief Clifton Couch and city officials, Great Bend Mayor Mike Allison Monday night named a committee to interview applicants to fill the job of top cop.
Appointed were Allison, council members Vicki Berryman and Joel Jackson, City Attorney Bob Suelter, Community Coordinator Christina Hayes, City Clerk Shawna Schafer, Public Lands Director Scott Keeler and Public Works Director Charlie Suchy. This committee will also review the proposals for the police department management and compensation study.
For now, the job listing for police chief is only open to members of the Police Department. The first application was submitted Monday.
“It will take us a while go get through this,” Allison said. The panel will present a recommendation to the governing body for approval at a later meeting, but there is no set date.
On Sept. 18, the Great Bend City Council officially accepted Couch’s resignation, which is effective Oct. 15. Under the agreement, the city is paying Couch through Oct. 15, but he was be “relieved from reporting to work immediately.”
Also on Sept. 18, the council:
• Appointed Jolene Biggs to fill Wayne Henneke’s Ward 2 council seat.
• Appointed George Kolb of Wichita as interim city administrator. The appointment was necessitated by the sudden Aug. 16 retirement of long-time City Administrator Howard Partington.
• Appointed Great Bend Fire Department Capt. Luke McCormick as the new Great Bend fire chief, replacing Mike Napolitano who retired at the end of August.
These appointments were made following the recommendations of other committees appointed by the mayor.
On July 24, the Great Bend City Council held the special meeting for an executive session to discuss Couch and now retired City Administrator Howard Partington.
Following the session, the council approved suspending Couch with pay with the potential for termination. This was based on comments he made during the June 29 special meeting where Couch alleged unethical conduct by Partington and Allison.
Partington had maintained Couch had been insubordinate. The council on June 29 also called for a management and compensation study of the Police Department.
On Sept. 5, the council reinstated the Couch. He submitted his resignation Sept. 13.