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W'bago leader ending tenure

October 2, 2012
Jodelle Greiner - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

WINNEBAGO - Winnebago City Council accepted the resignation of City Administator Austin Bleess with regrets Monday.

Bleess has accepted the city manager job in Caribou, Maine. His last day in Winnebago will be Oct. 19.

"My wife (Beth) and I love the East Coast and are excited," Bleess said after the meeting.

He said Caribou is about five times as large as Winnebago, with a population just over 8,000. The city has a budget of $13 million, and Bleess will oversee about 70 staff members.

Bleess said he is happy with what he has been able to accomplish in 2 1/2 years in Winnebago.

"Brew Fest was a lot of fun," he said. "That's an event that will live on. I'll be back next year.

"Getting rid of the Stokely slab was a big one," Bleess said. "The city can be proud of the budgets we had in 2012 and 2013, as well.

"One of the biggest things is staff morale is quite high," he pointed out. "Everybody enjoys coming to work, which is great."

Bleess said he leaves with no regrets.

"I've had a lot of fun in Winnebago," he said. "Everybody can look back on the last two and a half years and be proud of what we've accomplished, and I'm looking forward to the future."

After the council accepted Bleess' resignation, it discussed the process by which it will find his replacement.

Bleess presented a proposal to accept resumes until the position is filled. He said one application has been received. The first review of resumes would be Oct. 11, by he and the personnel committee. First-round interviews would be Oct. 15 and second round interviews Oct. 18.

"This would allow us to make an offer to a potential candidate by Oct. 19," Bleess said.

"Is it typical to have it happen this quick?" asked Councilman Scott Robertson, and mentioned Bleess' leaving would be complicated by the absence of Deputy City Clerk Megan Boeck, who has requested Family and Medical Leave during that time.

"Posting the position for two weeks is normal," said Bleess, adding that four weeks is also common for a city administrator.

"I just feel it should take a little more time; it's a big decision," Robertson said.

"It's a tight timeline, but we're accepting resumes until someone is hired," said Councilman Chris Ziegler.

The council approved the timeline as its game plan.

The issue also will be discussed at the next meeting, Oct. 9.



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