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Committee begins narrowing the field of Dixon city manager candidates

DIXON – The city received 19 city manager applications, and its 10-member citizen hiring committee has started the process of narrowing the field.

Committee members, who were appointed by the City Council, met for the first time Monday and plan to start interviews early next week. They will give their list of finalists to the council, who will do the final interviews, with the goal of hiring someone by the end of the month.

“The process is on track, and I think we intend to keep it that way,” Mayor Li Arellano Jr. said Tuesday.

Also assisting with the hiring process is City Attorney Rob LeSage, an ex-officio committee member, Paul Greufe, the city’s human resources consultant, City Clerk Becky Fredericks and Amanda Bradshaw, assistant to the city manager.

The committee also received guidance from John Phillips, a member of the Illinois City/County Management Association and former Rock Island city manager, who spoke about the city manager position and its role in government.

Phillips also came to Dixon a few years ago to speak with the task force that researched different forms of government in the wake of the Rita Crundwell scandal.

Arellano said although the members come from a diverse range of areas, it was good for the committee to hear from an outside expert.

“This way, the committee had an independent, respected opinion from a professional on the topic,” he said.

The council fired former City Manager Cole O’Donnell Aug. 8 in a split vote for reasons that included communication issues, staff morale and not establishing his principle residence in Dixon, as was required in his contract.

The council gave him a severance package of 5 months salary, about $53,542, along with
5 months of health benefits.

O’Donnell was Dixon’s first city manager under the new form of government, which began in 2015, although former City Administrator David Nord had the position in the interim.

The council gave Nord a severance package of 6 months salary and benefits totaling $65,840 to bring in O’Donnell, who was hired in November 2015, started work in December and was sworn in Jan. 2, 2016. He went on paid leave July 26.

Nord and O’Donnell were finalists selected from 39 applicants for the position.

Arellano said he was pretty happy with the 19 applications they received by Friday’s deadline.

Rochelle had around the same number for its recent city manager search, which concluded last month, he said.

There were a couple of candidates from the local area, several from the region and at least one from outside of Illinois, he said.

Once a city manager is hired, he or she will hire a new Public Works director to replace Terry Weter, who resigned Aug. 23 after 10 months in the position.

The council chose Dixon police Chief Danny Langloss to be interim city manager, and he selected Water Department Manager Matt Heckman to be interim Public Works director.


Spencer Aurand, alternate member of the Plan Commission

The Revs. Michael Cole and David Spalding, of the Worship Center and First Presbyterian Church of Dixon, respectively

Rick Curia, CEO of Ken Nelson auto dealership

Larry Dunphy, owner of Books on First

Amy Fenwick, owner of Roxie's

David Hellmich, president of Sauk Valley Community College

Jenny Koch, executive director of the United Way of Lee County

Suzanne Ravlin, human resources director at KSB Hospital

Jeff Stauter, executive director of Kreider Services

City attorney Rob LeSage, an ex-officio member


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