Transitions: Bartow Co., GA; Cape May Co., NJ; Jefferson Co., WV and more

Peter Olson

Peter Olson

Bartow County, Georgia (population 100,157): Bartow County Commissioner-Elect Steve Taylor announced Thursday that Cartersville Attorney Peter Olson will serve as the next county administrator, according to The Daily Tribune News. As Taylor prepares to take office in January, Olson will fill the role of retiring County Administrator Steve Bradley. After 19 years in the role, Bradley will retire in January alongside Commissioner Clarence Brown. In his stead will be Peter Olson, an attorney of 18 years focusing in the areas of zoning and land law, local government law, real property and business litigation. Olson has worked regularly with the county in recent years and serves as city attorney for Kingston and Resaca. Taylor looked to name an administrator quickly after the election to afford the necessary time for transition. Olson has already begun conversations with Brown and Bradley and will be involved with budget preparations in the coming months, but many of the position’s responsibilities will coincide with tasks Olson has performed as outside counsel. Olson was born outside of Chicago and raised near Montgomery, Ala., before receiving his bachelors degree from Vanderbilt University in 1989 and a juris doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin in 1992. A summary of professional accomplishments was included in a statement released Thursday. Taylor interviewed local and outside candidates for the position, but said he kept returning to Olson for his skill and experience along with his knowledge of local government. Just as Olson has, Bradley too came from a background in law, serving as co-counsel for the county at a local firm before stepping into the role of county administrator. After 16 years in Cartersville, Olson stepped out on his own earlier this year to begin a new firm. Taking the role as administrator, he will now begin the process of closing his practice and helping clients through the transition. Olson and his wife, Ellyn, have two children: Grey, 7, and Eden, 4.

Cape May County, New Jersey (population 97,265): Edmund Grant Jr. will remain as director of operations for Cape May County indefinitely, said Freeholder director Gerald Thornton, according to The Middle Township Gazette. Grant replaced county administrator Stephen O’Connor, who left to become the interim executive director of the South Jersey Economic Development District. Grant came on board in May after retiring as the county’s treasurer earlier this year. In May, Thornton said putting Grant into the position would give freeholders time to decide what duties the county administrator position should have. As director of operations, Grant oversees the day-to-day workings of county government. He directs a staff of management, professional and administrative personnel and puts in place orders and policies of the Cape May County Board of Freeholders, strategic planning and policy oversight. Since Grant assumed administrator duties, some lingering issues in county government were discovered and taken care of, Thornton said. Thornton put it down to having a “new set of eyes” heading county government. One of the issues was having around the Cape May Airport in LowerTownship cleaned up. That work included cleaning around the Fare Free Transportation buses, he said. Grant also started a wellness program in an effort to reduce county government costs, Thornton said. Employees will learn about living healthier lifestyles, nutrition and more. Thornton did not know how much would be saved. He said county’s insurance company is on board with the idea. The program was expected to kick off Tuesday, Sept. 11. Middle management training will also be started, which will include some employees getting a review of managing and of budgets in a classroom setting, Thornton said. Grant was Cape May County’s chief financial officer for 17 years and county purchasing agent from 1986 until 1994. He also used to be a mayor in Wildwood and council president.

Jefferson County, West Virginia (population 53,498): Debbie Keyser, Jefferson County’s interim administrator since May, moved to permanent status Thursday following a unanimous vote by all five county commissioners, according to the Herald-Mail. Keyser was hired in April as the county’s first full-time human resources director. Less than a month later the commissioners named her interim administrator to replace Sandra Slusher McDonald in the temporary slot. McDonald was chosen in January to take over the duties after County Administrator Tim Boyde resigned. Keyser worked for more than 20 years in human resources administration for two private firms. According to McDonald, Keyser was one of 35 applicants for the Jefferson County job. Three were interviewed. Noland said Keyser’s human resource experience is a plus in her duties as county administrator. Keyser plans to move to Jefferson County after she sells her house in Berkeley County. She will be responsible for an annual county budget of $26 million and 1,870 county employees. Her salary as interim administrator, $97,750, won’t change with her new permanent status.

Fulton County, Illinois (population 37,069): Fulton County Administrator Mike Hays is out, according to the Journal Star. A last-minute attempt to extend his contract until Nov. 30 resulted in a 9-9 vote at Tuesday’s County Board meeting. That means the measure was defeated, and Hays’ last day is Thursday. The “challenging environment” was the topic of discussion more than once Tuesday night. Board member Del Parson had pointed questions for finance committee chairman Neil Williams about a request to hire a part-time administrative clerk. Williams said the hiring freeze means the board will “scrutinize” a vacant position and determine whether it is necessary. The money is in the budget for an administrative clerk, who will be even more necessary if Hays is gone. Nevertheless, that position was approved before the request to extend Hays’ contract was shot down. And the extension request itself raised similar concerns. Even the roll call was puzzling, since board member Roger Clark’s name was not called. He did, eventually, vote, and cast one of the votes in favor of Hays’ extension. The other yes votes were Conklin, Garry Hensley, Vicki Hoke, Ed Ketcham, who introduced the motion to extend the contract, Rod Malott, Doug Manock, Terry Pigg and Larry Taff. Voting against the extension were George Hall, Helle, Linda Hudson, Ed Huggins, Parson, Merl Pettet, Doreen Shaw, John Taylor and Williams. While it would appear Fulton County is in the somewhat unusual position of approving a position to be hired by a county administrator who no longer exists, Fulton County Clerk Jim Nelson said that is not a problem. He explained that those duties had been handled by elected officials before Fulton County hired its first county administrator in 2007. He anticipates the elected officials will redistribute the work again.

Hazleton, Pennsylvania (population 25,340): Hazleton City’s administrative department will soon have a new leader, according to the Standard Speaker. Mary Ellen Lieb notified the mayor of her intent to retire as acting director of administration, a position she has held for the past four years.

Swansea, Illinois (population 13,430): Village Administrator John Openlander has resigned to take a job as a city administrator in another state, according to the News-Democrat. Mayor Jim Rauckman said Openlander turned in his resignation letter Wednesday. In his resignation letter, Openlander said he has accepted a city administrator position in another state. Openlander’s contract with the village was set to expire in April at the end of Rauckman’s current mayoral term. The village administrator’s appointment runs concurrent with the mayor’s term. The contract requires Openlander give the village 60 days notice upon his resignation. His last day with the village will be Nov. 9. Rauckman said he and village trustees will discuss how the village should proceed with filling Openlander’s position. Swansea Village Board is likely to formally accept Openlander’s resignation during its board meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at the Swansea Government Center.

Lampasas, Texas (population 6,681): Llano City Manager Finley deGraffenried will serve as the new Lampasas city manager, according to KWTX. DeGraffenried takes the place of Michael Stoldt, who was fired just over a year ago for “in-house reasons.” In June, the city selected David Vela as a finalist for the position but he turned it down after failing to come to terms with the city council on salary and other terms of employment. Interim City Manager Stacy Brack has been filling the position temporarily since last August. DeGraffenried will give the City of Llano about a month’s notice before working in Lampasas full-time October 15. The city says deGraffenried’s experience with various management projects and his social skills make him a good match for the city.

Bulverde, Texas (population 5,478): Bulverde City Councilmembers unexpectedly voted four to one Tuesday to terminate City Administrator John Hobson’s contract effective immediately, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Mayor Bill Krawietz said the action to fire Hobson, which came after an executive session, was a surprise to him after Councilman Kirk Harrison asked weeks ago to put a personnel matter on Tuesday’s agenda. Shane Reynolds was the only councilman to vote against the motion. However, Krawietz said, council members reviewed Hobson’s performance during Tuesday’s executive session and concluded they had to terminate his contract. Hobson was hired as the city administrator in June 2006. His current base salary is $88,155 plus a monthly $400 car allowance, according to City Finance Director Ginger Hofstetter. City Attorney Frank Garza said Hobson’s contract was for an indefinite term. Including sick leave and vacation pay, Hobson’s severance will amount to $78,000 before taxes. Harrison said the council did not make the decision lightly. Hobson said council’s action Tuesday was unexpected. Krawietz said Hofstetter will assume Hobson’s duties until the city hires a new administrator.

Scandia, Minnesota (population 3,936): Kristina Handt, former village administrator of Luck, Wisc., will be Scandia’s city administrator, according to the Forest Lake TimesHandt will start work on Monday, Sept. 17. At their Tuesday, Aug. 28 work session the council voted to hire Handt at a salary of $70,000 per year. Current Administrator Anne Hurlburt will retire the first week of October. Handt has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, training from the Minnesota Paralegal Institute, and a master’s degree in advocacy and political leadership from the University of Minnesota. She held the Luck job from September 2008 to July 2012, supervising nine full-time and 33 part-time employees. At Luck, Handt said, there are only 11 miles of road to care for, compared to 90 miles in Scandia.  Funding for roads doubled while she was the village administrator, including grants. She has experience with city septic systems.  In Luck, she said, one system serves most of the village, but there are others around the lake, installed to improve lake quality. Before working in Luck, Handt was a legislative assistant for MN State Sen. Gary Kubly for four years. She had internships at the city of Minnestrista  in 2007 and Grassroots Solutions, a consulting firm, in 2006. In 2002 and 2003 she worked for Kohl’s Department Stores, as a personnel/operations area supervisor and then as a district auditor. In 1999 and 2000 she interned for U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar and State Sen. Steve Murphy.

Goliad, Texas (population 1,908): The Goliad city administrator is resigning, pending acceptance of a city manager position in Guthrie, Okla, according to the Victoria Advocate. Goliad City Council is set to discuss the pending resignation Tuesday, but Sereniah Breland said it is not official until the Guthrie City Council votes to hire her, also on Tuesday. Mayor Jay Harvey said the Goliad City Council has plans to name an interim city administrator at Tuesday’s meeting. Breland has been with Goliad for almost two years. Harvey said she has many accomplishments, such as implementing code enforcement and building inspections in Goliad. He said Breland also tried to create a municipal court for Goliad. Her last day will be Oct. 9, according to her resignation letter. Guthrie, which has a population of about 10,000, is in central Oklahoma.

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Transitions: Arlington, TX; Henry County, GA; West Sacramento, CA and more

“When you get in it and you’re in that groove and it’s working, it is a very fulfilling thing from a career standpoint and a public service standpoint.”–Morehead City Manager Randy Martin

Arlington, Texas (population 365,438): After conducting a national search for a new city manager, Arlington City Council members stayed close to home for their choice, according to the Star-Telegram. Deputy City Manager Trey Yelverton, 44, who has worked for the city since 1993, was promoted to the top job at the end of Tuesday’s council work session. Yelverton has been deputy city manager since 2006, overseeing departments including economic development, community services, parks and recreation, libraries, and police and fire. Previously, he was neighborhood services director. Yelverton earned a bachelor’s degree in political science-public administration from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1988 and a master’s from the University of North Texas in 1989. The council will vote on Yelverton’s contract at a later date, Cluck said. Last week, the council met twice to review 53 applicants. Councilman Robert Rivera said Yelverton, whose accomplishments include facilitating the Cowboys Stadium project and Super Bowl XLV bid, was an obvious choice.

Henry County, Georgia (population 203,922): During a called meeting last week, the Henry County Board of Commissioners appointed District 2 Commissioner Fred Auletta to the position of county manager, recently held by Butch Sanders, who turned in his resignation, according to Neighborhood Newspapers. With nearly 45 years of management and financial experience and an intimate knowledge of the county’s budget situation, Auletta is the ideal choice for the position, ensuring the county can effectively plan for the next fiscal year without missing a beat in spite of the anticipated decline in the tax digest. And at a called meeting last Friday, the commissioners named Brian Preston to fill the seat vacated by Auletta when he stepped down from the board earlier last week. Preston was one of seven people considered for the appointment. Others on the list included Roy Clack, Dan Judson, Arley Lowe, John Palmer, Brian Strickland and Kathy Watts. In anticipation of the appointment, Auletta submitted his letter of resignation to the Governor’s office earlier this week. He is also stepping down from his position at Bennett International, where he has been successful in broadening their base, increasing sales and improving the company’s profit margin even in this down economy. Also during last Friday’s called meeting, the board named District 3 Commissioner Randy Stamey as vice-chairman.

West Sacramento, California (population 37,642): West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon announced that City Manager Toby Ross plans to retire before July 1, according to The Sacramento Bee. Since assuming the city manager’s post in November 2002, Ross has overseen numerous projects and programs. City officials cited among his accomplishments major retail development in the north and south areas of the city, with anchor tenants such as IKEA, Walmart, Nugget and Target. They also cited development of the downtown into a government center encompassing City Hall, the Arthur F. Turner Yolo County Library, a satellite facility for Sacramento City College and a City Community Center. Before coming to West Sacramento, Ross was city manager for Park City, Utah, for 13 years.

Fulton County, Illinois (population 37,069): Only the Fulton County Board would break off a long-term relationship on Valentine’s Day, according to the Journal Star. The tally was 11-6 to notify Fulton County Administrator Mike Hays that the board does not intend to renew its vows in September. This is the second time he was left standing with an altered contract. His most recent agreement was struck after last-minute negotiating last fall, after a similar board decision. Allegedly, the break-up is not about love, but money. George Hall explained that Hays has a one-year contract which expires Sept. 13. Under the terms of that contract, Hays must be given at least 180 days notice if the board does not intend to renew. Otherwise, the contract automatically renews for another year. Hall maintains the county cannot guarantee it will have the funds for an administrator in the future. Hays makes $76,915 a year. Steve Conklin disputed that explanation. He called it ironic that the board approved hiring a new clerical assistant in the administrator’s office at the same meeting. Conklin is a member of the finance committee. He said if getting rid of Hays was a financial move, it should have been discussed by that group, but it was only discussed by the executive committee. Hays himself said little, except that it is common for county administrators to have severance or long-term provisions because they work in politically volatile situations. He said he told the board he intends to seek other employment, but will work hard in the seven months remaining on his contract.

Burlington, Iowa (population 25,663): After two days of interviews, the Burlington City Council Saturday named James Ferneau, 44, its new city manager, according to The Hawk Eye. Ferneau, city administrator of Sergeant Bluff since 2008, will start his new job in Burlington April 23, after a 60-day notice. Ferneau, who has been city administrator of Sergeant Bluff since 2008, will start his new job in Burlington April 23, following a 60-day notice to his current employer. Six candidates had an individual two-hour community orientation tour, met with a citizen’s panel and had an hourlong interview with city council members. Mayor Jim Davidson said the council and the panel were in agreement about hiring Ferneau once the interviews were over. Mayor Jim Davidson said the council and the panel were in agreement about hiring Ferneau. Ferneau has more to offer than a solid grasp on the budget, though. Davidson said the man is very personable. Mayor Pro Tem Christopher Reed said Ferneau stood out right away from the other candidates. Ferneau was headed back home Saturday night and is looking forward to bringing eight of his nine children back with him. The council has scheduled a special meeting at 4:30 p.m. Thursday to officially adopt a resolution approving Ferneau’s employment agreement. The public is encouraged to attend. Ferneau is a native Iowan and said he will spend the first several weeks of his new job getting to know the staff and the community, as well as identifying the biggest issues that need to be dealt with. He said Burlington is comparable to his hometown of Marshalltown in many ways. He has 11 years of city management experience, having worked as city manager of Fairbury, Neb., before moving to Sergeant Bluff. Police Chief Dan Luttenegger has been interim city manager since Doug Worden retired at the end of December. Luttenegger and the council are still working on the fiscal year 2013 budget, which will be approved before Ferneau comes on board. Ferneau said given realities in municipalities’ budgets, the old way of doing things doesn’t work. He said addressing challenges means thinking outside the box, like sharing services with other entities and streamlining services. Ferneau was selected from six finalists recruited by Voorhees Associates from a field of 66 applicants. Davidson said he sees a bright future ahead for Burlington with Ferneau at the helm.

Marina, California (population 19,718): A letter laying out the rationale for City Manager Tony Altfeld’s pending ouster is short — one paragraph — and says the only reason is the city and Altfeld have failed to agree on pay issues, according to The Monterey County Herald. Responding to Altfeld’s request for written reasons for his pending March 7 termination, an Oakland labor attorney hired by the City Council to handle dealings with the embattled chief executive replied last Friday. The Feb. 17 letter from attorney Edward Kreisberg told Altfeld the sole reason for his pending removal was that he and the City Council could not agree on appropriate pay and severance terms for a new contract. Altfeld makes about $203,000 a year and his contract calls for 12 months of severance pay if he is let go. The city code, however, appears to cap a dismissed city manager’s severance pay at four months. Altfeld’s attorney, Mark O’Connor, took issue Tuesday with the reason given in the city’s letter. He said Altfeld had agreed to the City Council’s “last and best offer” on compensation and severance terms. O’Connor said the letter fell short of adequately disclosing “the information that bears on the reason” for Altfeld’s planned termination. Kreisberg didn’t return a phone message Tuesday. The council today will consider scheduling a public hearing sought by Altfeld on his termination for its March 6 meeting, the day before the city manager is supposed to go.

Safety Harbor, Florida (population 16,884): The Safety Harbor City Commission voted Monday night on a three-year contract with former City Manager Matt Spoor that brings him back at the same salary, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Spoor resigned in early January for a job with St. Petersburg but recently asked for his old job back. Commissioners unanimously agreed to an annual salary of $122,763 for the returning city manager. “Congratulations, Mr. Spoor. It’s good to have you back,” said Mayor Andy Steingold.

Green River, Wyoming (population 12,515): Longtime Green River City administrator Barry Cook has resigned, according to KUGR News. Green River mayor Hank Castillion said Cook handed him his resignation letter Thursday night. Castillion says the letter will be forwarded to the City council for discussion and action at there upcoming Tuesday night meeting. Castillion says he could not comment on what the next step will be for the city until the council has an opportunity to discuss Cook’s resignation. Cook has served the city for over 15 years.

Vidor, Texas (population 10,579): Ricky Jorgensen, Vidor city manager, is ending his seven year tenure with the city on March 9, according to The Record Live. He’ll be the new city manager of Giddings, a city on Highway 290 that is 40 miles south of Austin. Jorgensen said he looks forward to the move for two reasons: his daughter and his three-month-old grandchild live in Austin and also Giddings has its own water, sewer and electrical works utilities. Jorgensen feels the city has accomplished much in his stay in Vidor. Some of those accomplishments that stand out to him include completing two property annexations that allowed the city to grow, building the Joe Hopkins Memorial Park, building a new city hall, using Hotel Occupancy Tax money to improve the quality of life in an effective way and more revenues coming in. In fact, the city is close to balancing its budget for the first time in years, he said. The city council has also reached the halfway mark in the zoning process for the city. The city council and the Vidor Police Association also agreed upon a new contract two years ago. Another round of police contract negotiations will begin again either in May or June of this year. Advertising for a new city manager for Vidor has begun with notices on the Texas Municipal League, the Texas Managers Association websites and newspapers.

Taft, California (population 9,327): City Manager Bob Gorson resigned unexpectedly Tuesday night, apparently during an evaluation by the Taft City Council, according to the Taft Midway Driller. Gorson turned in his keys and was escorted from the building. Mayor Randy Miller confirmed the announcement Wednesday morning. Public Works Director Craig Jones was named interim city manager. Miller and City Attorney David Prentice were going to meet with city staff Wednesday morning to discuss the sudden resignation. Gorson’s  evaluation was on the agenda for a closed session prior to the 7 p.m. regular meeting, but it was postponed until after the regular open session. The council adjourned into closed session with Gorson and Prentice about 8:20 p.m.

Franklin, Virginia (population 8,812): After taking the Franklin city manager’s job on a three-month interim basis, June Fleming on Tuesday will return to retirement for what turned into a 3½-year stint, according to the Tidewater News. Fleming, who retired as city manager of Palo Alto, Calif., and moved to Franklin in 2000, applied for the interim position in 2008 when former City Manager Bucky Taylor left. The City Council searched for a city manager when she came on, but didn’t get a good pool of candidates. Randy Martin, the city manager for Morehead City, N.C., will start on Tuesday, Feb. 21. (See story below.) Fleming said she has enjoyed her time with the city and has no regrets. A member of High Street United Methodist Church, she plans to volunteer for the church and spend more time with family. She will represent Franklin on the Paul D. Camp Community College Board of Directors. Mayor Jim Councill wished Fleming well in retirement. A Little Rock, Ark., native, Fleming married her husband, Roscoe, 46 years ago. The couple has a daughter each and adopted a son together. Fleming began her city government career with the Palo Alto Public Library before working her through the ranks to city manager. She was with the City of Palo Alto for more than 30 years. Fleming took over at a crucial time when the city was trying to become more fiscally responsible, said Councilman Benny Burgess. He said Fleming helped clean up the budgeting process.  Fleming said one of the biggest challenges she faced in her time was managing the economic downturn. She also oversaw the restructuring of city debt and was able to take positions out of the budget that had never been filled. Councilman Barry Cheatham said Fleming came to the city when her leadership was “sorely needed.”

Morehead City, North Carolina (population 7,440): The life of a public servant often means change, but for departing Morehead City Manager Randy Martin there has been a constant during his 16-year tenure with the town: a shared vision of the town council, the staff, the manager and the community, according to the Jacksonville Daily News. It’s a valued combination in a local government career. Add in the fact that it’s the place where he and his wife, Sheila, have raised their three sons and where they’ve become part of the community, and Martin said he has never lost his enthusiasm for the job or the town. Martin is retiring after working more than 30 years in local government in North Carolina and will continue his public service work for a while longer with a new job as city manager in Franklin, Va. With half of his North Carolina career in Morehead City, there are many projects and accomplishments that come up in conversation: the restoration of the downtown train depot, the Radio Island Water Access, the acquisition of Sugarloaf Island, and the construction of a new police department and new fire department facilities to name a few of the most visible ones. There have also been major upgrades to town utilities, including a new state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant, a 10-year project said to be the largest in the town’s history. One of the areas in which Martin says he is most proud is the expansion of the town’s parks and recreation facilities and programs. In numbers, the amount of town-owned public recreation space as grown from less than 5 acres to close to 80. The town’s recreation center has been fully renovated, water accesses have been added, bike paths and multi-use trails are well used and ball fields and playgrounds have been constructed, from Rotary Park and Shevans Park to the new baseball field at Big Rock Stadium, which serves as home to the Morehead City Marlins, a summer college baseball team. Martin said the successes the town has seen are the result of a cooperative effort. As he retires from his Morehead City duties, Martin’s biggest compliment to the town is that his family considers it home and it’s the place where he plans to return when he retires again. Martin’s last day on the job will be Monday. The town has hired Peter Connet, a retired city manager, to serve on an interim basis while the town council conducts a search for a new manager.

High Springs, Florida (population 5,552):  In an unannounced move Feb. 9, the High Springs Commission appointed Jeri Langman to the permanent position of City Manager, according to Alachua County Today.  Although it was not on the agenda, commissioners made the appointment during the final moments of the meeting, raising concerns among several people in attendance that the matter should have been deferred and taken up after being advertised to the public. Despite harsh criticism from some, on a motion placed on the floor by Vice Mayor Barnas and seconded by Commissioner Linda Gestrin, commissioners approved the measure in a 3-1 vote.  Mayor Dean Davis also supported the appointed while Commissioner Sue Weller cast the only vote against it. It was during that workshop before the regularly scheduled commission meeting that it was reported that the only remaining candidate in the running for the job, W.D. Higginbotham, Jr., withdrew from the process. Langman was hired as the interim city manager in December at a salary of $4,000 monthly without benefits.  She replaced Jenny Parham, who served as interim city manager and was compensated about $1,500 monthly in addition to her role as city clerk.  Langman will drop the interim from her title, but will see a marked increase in compensation.  In approving the change, commissioners also gave Langman an annual salary of $55,000 plus benefits. The appointment did not come without heated criticism from several people calling on the commission to reconsider the action.  Most of those speaking out in opposition to the appointment urged the commission to restart the city manager selection process.  Others, however, lauded the commission and encouraged their fellow residents to stand behind Langman and the city. Barnas said he was pleased with Langman and didn’t want to search for another city manager.  But numerous people spoke out against aborting the search for a city manager, including resident Laura Graetz who said the city needs a city manager with the proper qualifications to run a city. Graetz referenced an employment advertisement for the city manager position, in which the desired qualifications are outlined.  Among them are 3-5 years of responsible municipal government experience, professional management experience and economic development experience.  Linda Jones said she voted for Barnas and Gestrin but accused the duo of switching their positions. Other residents, including Bob Hallman, supported the commission’s move and blamed the city’s prior administration for harming its financial position. Hallman also said unrest in the community might be explained by what he considers inaccurate news reporting.  Hallman did tell the commission that he thought there was some “serious staff problems” at the City.  But he supported the appointment of Langman. Resident and employee Don Alderman said he was pleased with the direction of the City, but warned that the commission’s swift actions on Thursday might not be perceived by the public in a positive light, and therefore, motivate people to replace commissioners.  After Barnas made the motion during the City Commissioner Comments portion of the meeting to appoint Langman, former City Attorney and High Springs resident Thomas DePeter sharply criticized the move. Another criticism came online as former commissioner Eric May noted on his blog site that in making the appointment during commission comments, they violated the city’s own rules.  According to section 4(L) of the city commission’s Rules of Procedures, “Final action can only be taken if the City Commission waives its Rules of Procedures.”  That waiver never occurred.  Although there appears to be a violation of the city’s own rules, the appointment of Langman is unlikely to be successfully contested as the rules are not state law. Langman’s appointment was effective immediately.

Osceola, Iowa (population 4,614): A separation agreement was signed with Osceola City Administrator Bill Kelly last week after the city council held a special closed session, according to the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune. Kelly was placed on administrative paid leave by the council for disorderly conduct after Kelly acted in a disruptive manner during a recent budget meeting. However, Mayor Fred Diehl said there were other previous actions of Kelly that led to the council’s final decision. The council voted 5-1 to terminate Kelly’s contract and enter into the separation agreement. Councilmember Glenn Schaff said he was in favor of terminating Kelly, however, he was not in favor of the agreement package the council approved. Kelly served as city administrator for five years. City Clerk Ty Wheeler will be filling in temporarily as administrator. Diehl said although Wheeler is young he feels it’ll be a good opportunity for him. According to the agreement, the employment contract, entered into with Kelly in November 2007, will be terminated without cause. The city’s 60-day notice of termination was issued, effective Feb. 17, and the date of termination will be Apr. 17. The agreement states that after the date of termination, “the city shall issue to the employee payment of severance equal to six months salary, six months of insurance benefits, and accrued vacation less any applicable employee insurance contributions.” In addition, the city agrees to allow Kelly to reside at his home through Oct. 17 under the pre-existing agreement reached in November 2009. However, the city won’t compensate Kelly for the rental value of the residence in the event Kelly moves prior to Oct. 17. The agreement states the employee agrees to waive any and all legal claims against the city.

Grosbeck, Texas (population 4,040): A long time City Administrator announced her resignation Tuesday at a city council meeting in Groesbeck, according to Our Town Grosebeck.Martha Stanton worked for the city for 38 years. City Council members in Groesbeck accepted Stanton’s resignation Tuesday night. Stanton’s last day working with the city will be March 31. The Groesbeck resident plans to stay in town, and find something to do to keep her busy. Jonestown, Texas (population 2,237): The Jonestown City Council voted unanimously Friday to accept the resignation of City Administrator Dan Dodson , who had been named in an ongoing grand jury investigation of a failed wind energy project, according to the Statesman. Court filings from October 2011 said Charlie Malouff Jr., founder of CM Energies, and Mary Jo Woodall, a former state comptroller’s office staffer and grant administrator, conspired to illegally obtain up to $2 million in federal stimulus money by overselling CM Energies’ ability to deliver the electricity-generating wind turbines. Dodson was named in court documents because of his involvement in the project. Dodson was named as the “project director,” “principal investigator” and “designated responsible employee” for the City of Jonestown on the grant paperwork, and he was warned by CM Energies employees that the windmill company couldn’t provide the technology for the wind turbines, authorities said in court documents. The city has filed a lawsuit against CM Energies, which was supposed to manufacture and install wind turbines for the city. Council members said Friday that city officials would continue to work with investigators involved in the case. Dodson, who has worked as city administrator since 2007 , didn’t appear in public during Friday’s meeting when council members met in executive session to discuss his employment. At the Feb. 9 council meeting, council members said they had received Dodson’s resignation letter but took no action at the time. In December, the council had decided against extending Dodson’s $80,000 annual contract. At the time, council members said Dodson would remain in his position without a contract because of his experience and his involvement in ongoing city projects. On Friday, the council also instructed city staff to begin advertising for a new city administrator, who would start May 1, if not sooner. Dodson would remain available as a consultant to the City of Jonestown, council members said. Alderman Joe Aaron said Friday that the last time the council looked for a city administrator, the process took more than five months. Dodson didn’t return a phone call on Friday seeking comment.