City says goodbye to outgoing commissioners PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 April 2013 10:18

After receiving a plaque from Liberal Police Chief Al Sill, outgoing city commissioner Larry Koochel, center, gets an official badge, patch and ID from Capt. Jon Antrim, left, at Tuesday’s commission meeting. The Liberal Police Department honored Koochel by making him an honorary lifetime member of the LPD. Sill said this is the first time in the history of the department such a move has been made. 

 

By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
Dean Aragon and Ron Warren took their seats as part of the new Liberal City Commission Tuesday evening, but before the board was reorganized, it was time to say goodbye to the two outgoing commissioners they replaced.
Newly elected mayor Dave Harrison presented a plaque to outgoing mayor Tim Long’s wife, Terri, for the absent commissioner. Before giving the plaque to Terri, Harrison talked about Long’s service on the board.
“He’s meant so much to this whole commission,” Harrison said. “What an awesome mayor. Anybody that can get Koochel and me and Carlile in the same room and make us mind is really somebody special. I know Joe and Janet grew to love Tim just like I did, and we’ll miss him very much.”
Terri then read a statement from Long.
“It has been for me an honor and a privilege to have served the last four years as your city commissioner,” she said. “Being mayor and having the opportunity to represent this community has been something I have taken great pride in doing. Terri and I truly love this community and have only wanted the best for it.”
In his statement, Long said it is the people of the community that make Liberal a great place to live.
“As commissioner Larry Koochel said in the last meeting, we have come a long way in the last six years and have accomplished many great things, but there is so much more left to be done,” his wife read. “There will be many road blocks, trials, problems ahead, but I am confident that this new commission and city staff will work closely together to find the right answers and continue to move this city forward.”
Long went on to talk about the commissioners he has served with, including Harrison, Koochel, former vice mayor Joe Denoyer, new vice mayor Janet Willimon and the late Bob Carlile.
“I could not have had any finer men and women to have served with than the five of you,” Terri said reading from the statement. “I consider it a privilege as well as what has been some of the most blessed times of my life. I want to take this opportunity to say, ‘thank you.’ Thank you for all you have done for this community and all that you will continue to do in the future.”
Long said he would like current board members to remember one thing.
“No one cares about how much you know until they know how much you care,” he said. 
Long then thanked city staff and employees for “the tireless work you do for your community.”
“It is important to me that all of you know that this effort does not go unnoticed,” he said. “Your support to the commission and this great city truly does make a difference.”
Long closed his statement by saying that one of the goals he and Terri have is “to always leave something better than it was when we found it.”
“I pray that this is what we have done here,” he said. “May God’s blessings and mercies remain and always will be upon the great city of Liberal, Kansas.”
Denoyer then presented the other outgoing commissioner, Koochel, with a plaque, and the former vice mayor said the plaque was simply not enough to express the gratitude for Koochel’s service.
“I don’t think the writing on this plaque does justice to what this next gentleman means to the city, has meant to the city and will continue to mean the city long after he has stepped down this time, but I don’t think we’ve heard the last of Larry Koochel yet,” he said. “If we were to have a plaque as big as we would like to say for him, I don’t think he’d be able to carry it out of the room.”
Denoyer said he has learned a lot from serving on the commission with Koochel.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to present this plaque to Larry Koochel – a mentor, a friend, somebody has always had the best interest of Liberal at heart,” he said. “We have not always agreed, but we’ve always agreed to move forward.”
Denoyer said Koochel has been instrumental in moving Liberal forward during the multiple terms he has served on the board.
“It’s been just an honor to serve with him and to learn from him,” Denoyer said. “I will continue to draw from his knowledge to help make myself a better commissioner and to make this community a better town for which all of us can live in.”
Koochel spoke of the progress that has been made in his time on the commission.
“It has been a very enjoyable, fast, furious and productive past six years,” he said. “We got a lot done, and it was done by team work. I’m just proud to be a small part of it. I’d like to say ‘thank you’ to everyone that supported me – city staff, all the employees and the people who have sent me cards and letters and so forth.”
Liberal Police Chief Al Sill then presented both Terri and Koochel with tokens of appreciation, starting with the former mayor’s wife.
“The mayor has provided us a great deal of support and leadership, and for that, we want to present a token of our appreciation,” he said. “The Liberal Police Department recognizes Mayor Tim Long for his dedicated service to the citizens of Liberal as a commissioner from April 13, 2009, to April 9, 2013. From all the Liberal Police Department, we thank you.”
Sill then presented what was the last, and most historic, of the awards of the evening to Koochel.
“This is something that’s never been done in the history of the Liberal Police Department,” he said. “Tonight’s going to be a huge honor for us. You have supplied a tremendous amount of leadership and support for the progress of the city of Liberal, the citizens as well as the Liberal Police Department. Tonight, we want to present you with a special token of our appreciation.”
Sill explained how and what was about to take place for Koochel.
“Much like the military, we operate by orders,” he said. “We’re structured so that anything that we enact, we do that by a general order like the military. Along with that, we have other orders as well such as personnel orders and special orders. A general order can only be enacted by the chief of police, and that’s done for the purposes of enacting policies and procedures. A special order, however, can be enacted by anybody of command staff to include our administrative assistant to any captain or the chief of police.”
Sill said Tuesday’s award was courtesy of a special order enacted by members of the LPD’s command staff.
“We want to appoint you as an honorary lifetime member of the police department,” he said to Koochel.
Sill added that making a commissioner an honorary member of the LPD had never been done prior to Tuesday, but he said because of Koochel’s support of the department, the action was justified.
“As of tonight, by powers of the chief of police position, I’m going to enact Special Order No. 2013-001, which states, ‘For his dedicated service to the citizens of Liberal and his unwavering support to the men and women of the Liberal Police Department, commissioner Larry Koochel is hereby appointed an honorary lifetime member of the Liberal Police Department effective this date, 2013,’” Sill said.
Sill echoed Denoyer’s sentiments, saying not enough gratitude could be expressed for Koochel’s efforts on the commission.
“I realize this is not very expensive,” Sill said. “It’s just a piece of paper, but the tribute behind it means the world to us. Thank you very much.”
Sill also presented Koochel with an official badge, ID card and patch.

 
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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press.

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