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W’bago fills interim position

October 19, 2012
Jodelle Greiner , Fairmont Sentinel

WINNEBAGO - A City Council member resigned, candidates for interim city administrator dropped out, an interim city administrator was approved, and the council decided to interview six candidates for the position of city administrator before the end of the month - a lot happened at a Winnebago City Council special meeting Thursday.

The first order of business was accepting the immediate resignation of Councilman Chris Ziegler. In a letter dated Oct. 12, Ziegler stated he submitted an application for the position of city administrator and offered his resignation "to avoid perception of a conflict of interest." He also stated it was an honor to serve on the council and thanked everyone. Ziegler's term would have expired Dec. 31, and he had announced in July he would not run again.

Jim Brimeyer and Dale Powers were the candidates for interim city administrator position, but Powers left word before the meeting that he was withdrawing his name so he could apply for the position on a permanent basis.

Brimeyer attended the meeting, but when he saw that Wendell Sande of South Central Service Cooperative was also present, he withdrew his name from consideration.

"With a two-hour drive, I don't think I'd be as available," said Brimeyer, noting the cooperative is based in North Mankato. Brimeyer also said he has commitments that might conflict with Winnebago's meeting schedule.

Sande said the cooperative is providing interim services and help with searching for permanent employees.

"There's not a charge for my services, just out of pocket expenses, mileage, etc." he said.

City Administrator Austin Bleess, whose last day is today, noted that the cooperative guided Blue Earth Area Schools in its search for a new superintendent, and school board members had told him it was handled well.

"Wendell certainly has the qualifications," Bleess said.

The council approved Sande as interim administrator and advised him to consult with Jeanne Korteum, who will be handling office duties while Deputy City Clerk Megan Boeck is on maternity leave.

With the interim position filled, the council turned to deciding how it will hire a permanent replacement for Bleess, who gave them the options of abolishing the position, sharing with another city, or hiring a new administrator. Council members quickly decided to hire an administrator.

"Seeing what people's opinions are, they want a city administrator," said Councilman Rick Johnson.

The council chose to review nine candidates whose applications came in before Oct. 11. They chose six and an alternate; and set the first round of interviews for 6 p.m. Oct. 29, and the second round for 7 p.m. Nov. 1. The interviews are open meetings and can be attended by the public.

In old business, the council decided an unimproved tract of land is land that has no structure of any kind on it. Based on that definition, the property on First Avenue owned by Judy Ness is an improved tract of land since it has a shed on it. It will be assessed sewer and water charges.

The council then approved the street assessments for the rest of the property owners.



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