Monday, March 1, 2021

Teamwork is new Medford mayor’s mantra

Newly elected Mayor Danny Thomas is counting on teamwork – from the council, from city employees and from city residents – to get the city through the controversial Main Street project, the search for an administrative director of operations and  a projected 2020 deficit in the city’s municipal liquor operations.

“The mayor is one vote, equal to every other council member,” said Thomas. “I plan to use everyone’s brain and intelligence and will seek out experts within the community.”

“I’m just the quarterback,” said Thomas who defeated former Mayor Lois Nelson in the November election.

A retired general manager of production for Jennie-o Turkey Store in Medford, Thomas is quick to point out that he didn’t campaign for the job. “The people of Medford did this,” he said.

He said when he was approached by a group of residents to run for the mayor’s job, he told them he would not campaign, nor would he go door-to-door. He did, however, provide signs from his basement that were first used when he ran and won the job in 2008. After one term, Thomas said he decided not to seek re-election.

During the council’s organization meeting earlier this month, Thomas created four leadership position and appointed each council member to one of those positions.

·      Chad Langeslag - commissioner of Water and Wastewater;

·      Manda Mueller - commissioner of Parks and Pools;

·      Grace Bartlett - commissioner of the Municipal Liquor Operation; and

·      Chad Merritt – commissioner of Streets.

Each will work with city employees and the community and bring recommendations to the entire council for a decision.

Thomas said he fully expect the Main Street project to move forward.

“It needs to be done,” said Thomas. “The last council did a lot of things to reduce the costs.”

A public hearing to address any remaining concerns and work through details with the county is schedule for Jan. 25.

The council also agreed to create an administrative director of operations position, rather than filling the city administrator position vacated in December by Andy Welti, who has been with the city for the past six years.

Thomas said the person hired for the new position will be  someone who has licenses in wastewater, water and plowing – licenses the city now contracts out for. A key pre-requisite for the position will be training experience. “We need someone to who know how to train people so they are successful in their positions,” said Thomas.

Figuring out how to overcome projected 2020 losses of about $45,000 in the municipal liquor operations is another known challenge.

In each of the past 10 years, Medford’s on-and-off sale operation posted profits ranging from a low of  $2,203 in 2014 to $41,388 in 2015. Those figures reflect increases over the previous year of 0.6% in 2014 and 10.2% in 2015.

Thomas said he thinks 2020 losses, not yet audited by the state, can be attributed to the mandated COVID-19 bar closings. He expects an update from Bartlett who is reviewing the matter with the liquor store manager.






Photo: Danny Thomas

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Steele County Times

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