The new guys

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, January 25, 2017
West Liberty has seen some changes and development in personnel to begin 2017, on Tuesday, Jan. 17, during the city council meeting.

To begin, former West Liberty fire chief and lifelong resident Robert Rock was chosen to fill out the final year of a four year council member term vacated by Felicie Simmons.

Simmons announced her resignation last December in order to relocate to Kalona, Iowa and be more involved with her daughter. In all she served three years.

The council nominated and unanimously approved Rock out of four other candidates, which also included Ponce Dewar, Gerald Wickham and Kurt Newcomb.

“I’m really happy that we had four different people express interest and thank you to all of them,” said council member Melody Russell, “Whoever’s not selected should run for election in November.”

That’s because two seats, those of Rock and Russell, will be up for election on Nov. 7. That also includes the position of mayor, currently held by Robert Hartman.

With the election coming up so soon, the council opted to fill in the vacated seat itself rather than a citywide election in order to save time, money and effort.

“They’re all good, any one of them would be fine,” said Council Member Diane Beranek after nominating Rock, “I guess I was looking for [someone] a little bit younger.”

That was about it for discussion, with the council voting in approval a minute later. Rock will be sworn in at the next council meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m.

That being said, now is the time, West Liberty, to consider running in the election to be held in November for either council (four-year term) or mayor (two-year term).

More information can be found on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website. However, candidate forms will be available in August at city hall with submission deadlines in September.

With the position filled the council moved on to swearing in Kary Kinmonth as the next police chief and longtime fire department member Kirt Sickels as fire chief.

Kinmonth, former police chief of Mitchellville, Iowa, was chosen to replace former West Liberty Police Chief Mark Kopf, who resigned back in June, 2016.

After months of searching Mayor Hartman nominated Kinmonth, during which time West Liberty Officer Dave Lira filled in as interim chief.

Kinmonth is a former United States Air Force Sergeant who has spent 25 years in police work all over Iowa, as a former police corporal for Davenport and chief for Epworth.

Chief Kinmonth hosted “Coffee with a Cop” last Thursday, Jan. 19, in order to get better acquainted with the community as he begins his full-time employment.

Meanwhile, Kirt Sickels was sworn in as the next chief of the West Liberty Fire and Emergency Department. Sickels has been a member of the department for 16 years.

He replaced Brain Flake, who served as chief in 2016. Coincidently, Flake had replaced Robert Rock in 2015, a six year chief who was just put on the council.

Both chiefs recited the necessary vows before shaking hands with the mayor during the city council meeting. They are officially sworn in.

To finish off the plethora of personnel items on the meeting agenda, the council went into closed session twice at the end of the meeting.

According to the agenda, the first closed session was to:

“Discuss strategy with counsel matters that are presently in litigation or where litigation is imminent where its disclosure would be likely to prejudice of disadvantage the position of the governmental body in the litigation.”

The second closed session was in regard to evaluating the professional competency of City Clerk Missy Clark.

According to the same agenda, her “appointment, hiring performance and discharge,” was being considered behind closed doors.

Upon entering back into open session, City Council Member Melody Russell moved to place Carter on a clerk “Performance Improvement Program.”

The council approved 4-0. However, the program specifics will be finalized and approved at the next city council meeting in February.
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