Although they won’t officially be a part of the City of Great Bend governing body until January, the meeting Monday afternoon was a chance for the incoming council members to get a glimpse behind the curtain.
Interim City Administrator George Kolb held an orientation session for the recently elected city officials at City Hall.
All will be sworn in during the City Council meeting Jan. 8, 2018.
Elected to city offices in the Nov. 7 general election were Joe Andrasek as mayor (who was unable to attend the Monday session), Dan Heath as a Ward 1 council member, Jolene Biggs as a Ward 2 council member, Cory Urban as a Ward 3 council member and Andrew Scott Erb as a Ward 4 council member.
“I want to welcome you all to a new life that is going to be challenging and pretty much different than what you are used to,” Kolb said. “It will be at times challenging, at times controversial and, hopefully, at times rewarding. You’ll get through it and be a better person for it.”
Before the meeting started, the new council members took their seats at the council table. They also shook hands with the various city department heads.
Then Kolb placed a stack of materials in front of each of them, including an employee handbook, a governing body manual and other items. “Pace yourselves. You can’t learn all of this in a day.”
Kolb walked the three new council members through the governing body manual, something he highly recommended the council adopt. The lengthy document outlined the expectations of the council, how the city’s mayor/council form of government works, how a meeting is run, the role the administrator, the duties of the mayor and council president, and other responsibilities of other city officers.
It also delved into working with the city staff, working with the public and dealing with the media. There were also sections on budgeting, approving ordinances and resolving conflicts.
“In light of the fact you had a horrible summer, you may want to establish a code of conduct,” Kolb said, referring to the controversy surrounding now resigned Police Chief Clifton Couch. “It is prudent to consider how you conduct yourselves.”
Other cities have similar manuals in place, he said. If the council were to take action on the guidelines, it would likely come in late January.
The key, Kolb said, is respect for each other, city personnel and the public.
Also present were current Mayor Mike Allison and council members Allene Owen and Vicki Berryman. They provided tips and insights as well.
However, Kolb was unable to cover all of the information he wanted to in the nearly two hours allotted for the meeting. So, a second session was set for 4 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall.
Tours of city-maintained facilities may also be scheduled.
Andrasek will supersede long-time Mayor Allison. As for the council: Heath defeated Mike Boys; Urban takes the place of Owen, who didn’t seek reelection and ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor; and Erb takes over for Dana Dawson, who did seek another term.