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Seigrist becomes third female mayor in Liberal history PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 10 January 2018 12:43

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ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times



The City of Liberal welcomed new leadership with three new commissioners during its most recent meeting Monday evening. 

Connie Seigrist, Justin Varnes and Taylor Harden were all sworn in near the beginning of the meeting. Harden and Seigrist would also ultimately be named vice mayor and mayor, respectively. 

“I truly appreciate everyone being here, I hope to see you all at each and every meeting,” Seigrist said. “It is you all who help us lead. Please stay involved in our city, we need everyone’s help. It takes a lot of people to make a great city and I know we can do this.”

“I’m very honored, it made me very happy,” Harden said. “I knew vice mayor, in my mind, was going to be between Justin and I. It’s very traditional for the top vote-getter to be named mayor and I think everyone was very confident and happy with Connie being the choice for that. I didn’t know if we were going to go with me or Justin, I would have been OK either way, but I’m very happy to serve in this capacity and be able to represent the city on a larger scale. I appreciate being able to get the experience as vice mayor and it feels great to know my peers have that confidence in me as well. I’ve always told everyone when you look at the new city commission, we all have a very specific role to play. Earl said it best when he called Connie the sage of the commission since she’s such a veteran of working with people and serving on so many different boards. I think she will serve as a perfect mayor. So the role I hope to play is being the guy who is able to work with everyone and see everyone working flawlessly together.” 

There has already been plenty said about the aftermath of the most recent meeting of the Liberal City Commission Monday evening, and there was plenty said during the meeting as well. 

The Items from Citizens portion of the meeting began with Al Sill announcing his intent to retire as Liberal’s police chief and then Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Rozelle Webb inviting the commissioners to the upcoming Night Out in Topeka event, which will be Jan. 22 as well as the Pancakes in Liberal event Jan. 23. After Sill and Webb spoke, Liberal citizen and current Seward County Commissoner Ada Linenbroker spoke before the commissioners. 

“I am here to thank Dean and Dave and Joe for serving as commissioners,” Linenbroker said. “I know it’s not a fun job, I’m in that position. I also want to congratulate the new commissioners who will be coming on and say the county’s excited to be working again together and I’m looking forward to our next joint meeting, which is, I believe, in February. So thank you, guys.”

Local citizen Reita Isaacs then spoke before the commissioners. 

“I would like to finish my part in this whole mess tonight the best I can,” Isaacs said. “I don’t fully know where to start, so I’ll start by saying I’ve been getting personal calls and people coming by bringing all types of information which forces me to admit and recognize the many things in this city that are going on that shouldn’t be. It’s starting at the top and spreading like tentacles through all different places. It’s gone on too long, it’s time to stop it.”

Isaacs then shared a past ordinance regarding the code of ethics for city officials and what all is listed in that ordinance. 

“We’ve had so many things that don’t appear to be right,” Isaacs said. “There seems to be a situation of one side says something and then another side is saying something else. In an interview Mayor Denoyer did with Earl Watt, it said you all knew nothing about Mr. Hall’s contract and said HR and staff were in charge of it. In what I found, there is nothing saying she can make up a contract. Someone is getting something out of this, no one can have an open-ended contract, anything they want and get by with it no questions asked. I don’t believe there needs to be anything like this in our city. I believe we have rampant corruption from all the things I hear. I have letters, phone calls, other information, e-mails. I do not plan to do anything about any of these if we get the result we need. I don’t want to. It needs to stop here.”

Local citizen Julia Thompson then spoke to the commission regarding some concerns she had regarding trash being strewn and an influx of feral animals in the alley area near her home as well as some concerns about the amount of condemned properties in the community and properties that have many fire hazards. After Thompson spoke, Hooker, Okla. resident Nancy Kletecka was the final one to speak during the Items from Citizens portion of the meeting. 

“I’ve worked in and out of Liberal for many years, a lot of it being in the media and marketing,” Kletecka began. “I’ve been watching with great interest what’s been going on out here. Ms. Isaacs is right, the eyes of your neighbors are upon you right now. One thing I do have to say, and I don’t know everyone here on the commission, but I’ll pick on two of you who I know in particular. I know Joe Denoyer has promoted this community a lot, he loves this community. I know Dean Aragon loves this community – he works at National Beef, so do you think he’d do something to harm this community and his job when he’s been such a loyal employee? I say that to ask the citizens of Liberal to think about it. Joe, I did understand from an article that the contract wasn’t completely read, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out someone lied to them. Someone needs to be held accountable, I agree with that. I want to thank you all for your service, I know public office is not fair and sometimes it’s really difficult and you have to put up with a lot.”

With the new commissioners being sworn in, Denoyer and Aragon gave final remarks to the gathered crowd, while commissioner Dave Harrison chose not to give any closing remarks at the meeting.

“I want to say good luck,” Aragon said. “I said when this all began that I would support all the new commissioners, and I will. I wish you all from the bottom of my heart good luck. It’s going to be a learning process but you’ll find out we have one heck of a staff here in the city of Liberal that helps keep it running and all the parks nice and neat, everything. They’re all awesome, I will always be grateful, I will always appreciate them, so thank you.”

“I would like to thank my Lord Jesus Christ because I would be nothing and I wouldn’t be able to do this job,” Denoyer said. “I would like to thank the city commissioners I’ve had the pleasure and opportunity to serve with and learn from starting with Doug LaFreniere, John Smith, Charlie Craig, moving all the way to Dave Harrison and Don Rash and Larry Koochel and then Tim Long and Janet Willimon, the list goes on. I want to thank you all for your service to this community – because of your service to this community,  it’s a better place than how you found it. It does take the dedication of someone who cares to make this city move forward. I want to thank my employer, they’ve given me the opportunity to attend not only regular city commission meetings but special meetings and serving on the League of Kansas Municipalities. City staff, we put together a heck of a team, you see what this city can be. The citizens, for electing me to three 4-year terms. And mostly, my family – as a commissioner, you don’t serve alone, your family serves with you and a lot of times, they’re a sounding board on how to fix things or just talk to. God bless this community, God keep it strong and thank you for the opportunity to serve.”

 

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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 and the Associated Press.

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