Archive for Tuesday, March 11, 2008

County tabs administrator from Topeka

A World War I doughboy statue stands outside the Leavenworth County Courthouse.

A World War I doughboy statue stands outside the Leavenworth County Courthouse.

March 11, 2008

After two months of interviews and years of debate, Leavenworth County commissioners have hired the county's first-ever administrator.

Heather Morgan, who currently works in Topeka as the state Juvenile Justice Authority's director of public and legislative affairs and federal programs, will assume her role as county administrator on April 7.

Morgan, a graduate of Kansas State University with a master's degree in public administration, also spent time assisting the Governor's Office with the Kansas Division of the Budget before deciding to come to Leavenworth.

The administrator's position, created by resolution - not public referendum - despite two unsuccessful ballot initiatives in 1998 and 2002, has been advertised as "the administrative officer for the county," responsible for preparing and presenting an annual budget, coordinating the administrative operations of the departments, reviewing contracts and assuming administrative responsibility in areas designated by the county.

"I think Leavenworth County is poised for some really good things in the future," Morgan said by telephone Friday, "and I look forward to working with the county commission to achieve those."

1st District Commissioner J.C. Tellefson said Monday he was "extraordinarily pleased" with the hiring.

"We had significantly qualified people, and she just kept bubbling up to the top," he added.

Commissioner Dean Oroke, who said Thursday it probably took him longer than the other two commissioners to reach a decision, explained, "The first administrator is going to have a hard job. The finances probably aren't going to be as hard (for Morgan). The hard part is being able to build trust and relationships with other appointed officials, elected officials and employees."

Oroke later added, however, he was satisfied with the board's decision.

"And it's going to be to the benefit of the county in the long run," he said.

In addition to approving Morgan's hiring at their meeting Thursday, commissioners also approved a yearly salary for the position of $85,000.

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