Joe Patterson was honored Monday during his final Hastings City Council meeting as city administrator.
He announced in February that he would retire May 10. Current city attorney Dave Ptak will take over as city administrator on May 11.
“I just want to say thank you so much for helping me through this transition, everything you’ve been able to do for the city is very evident,” Mayor Corey Stutte told Patterson. “You’ve left this place better than you found it. You’ve done an admirable job. Thank you for everything you’ve done.”
Patterson, 65, started working for the city of Hastings in September 1980 as director of the parks and recreation department.
He has served in the city administrator’s role since March 2001, first in an interim capacity before being appointed to the permanent post in 2002.
Patterson received a plaque from the League of Nebraska Municipalities that was presented by Al Vacanti, city administrator, clerk and treasurer for the city of Wisner and Jeff Hofaker, city administrator for Sutton.
“Congratulations to Joe Patterson, Hastings city administrator in recognition of 38 years of outstanding public service, dedication and commitment to the city of Hastings,” Vacanti said, reading the plaque.
He and Hofaker came Monday night representing the Nebraska City/County Management Association and also presented to Patterson a lifetime membership to the International City/County Management Association.
“I would also add for people like myself, people throughout the state, just the advice you gave or listening to things to things you did helped us do our jobs better,” Vacanti said.
When he addressed Ptak, Vacanti compared Patterson as an outgoing leader to former Cornhusker football coach Tom Osborne.
“In a few weeks you’re going to find out what Frank Solich felt like,” Vacanti told Ptak. “All you’ve got to do is win 10 a year or more.”
Patterson thanked the community.
“Hastings is a great town,” he said. “We moved here with the idea we’d be here four or five years and move back toward Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka — where my wife (Sherri) and I were originally from. We just really enjoyed the community. We’ve been challenged throughout the career and it’s really a great place to call home.
“I think the city’s in the right direction. I feel very comfortable about where we are right now. Financially we’re very strong compared to where we were 20 years ago. We’ve had some good hires lately. We’ve had some really good staff. I can’t think of anyone better to take my place than Dave Ptak. We’ve been using him in a role outside of the legal for the last three or four years. He’s ready to take over the reigns. So I feel very good about where we’re at and where we’re leaving the community.”
Patterson received a standing ovation. At the end of the meeting when Stutte asked him if he had any last words Patterson smiled and said a resounding “no.”
Also during the meeting, voted 6-0 to approve Ordinance 4590, authoritizing the sale of 144.45 acres of city property just west of the Whelan Energy Center that is commonly referred to the “forest property” due to the large number of trees growing there to Breechlock Renewables, LLC, of Oklahoma for $1. Council members also unanimously approved suspending the rules requiring three readings to pass an ordinance and passed Ordinance 4590 on the second and third reading.
Council members Paul Hamelink and Jeniffer Beahm were absent.
“This property is part of a large economic development project,” Ptak said. “We are under a nondisclosure agreement with Breechblock Renewables LLC. We cannot reveal the details of the project, what it is or the amounts involved. I will say it’s a sizeable investment in our community as well as a number of what I would consider high-paying jobs that would be located in our community. It’s something we’re looking very favorably at. There’s also a chance for large utility sales to this particluar development in gas, electric and water, which would certainly be beneficial as well as far as the city and the utility department.”
The property sale is subject to a right of remonstrance period of 30 days by an objection filed with the City Clerk signed by 20 % percent of the number of electors voting at the last municipal election and is also contingent, pursuant to a purchase agreement with the purchaser, on the proposed purchaser's due diligence being completed within 6 months.
“This will be a sizeable investment in our community and bring in some high-paying jobs,” Stutte said. “This is a great opportunity for our city and I look forward to seeing where this goes.”
In other business, the council:
— Recognized volunteers at the Hastings Museum.
— Unanimously approved Ordinance 4587 amending the officil city zoning map to rezone an area generally north of 33rd Street and east of Fisherman Lane from single family residential and multiple family residential to commercial business planned district.
— Unanimously approved awarding a contract to Van Kirk Brothers Contracting of Sutton for $267,075 for an upgrade to an eight inch water main on Fifth Street from St. Joseph Avenue to Minnesota Avenue then south on Minnesota Avenue to Fourth Street. The existing main is about 100 years old and experienced several breaks in recent years. This will tie into recent water main upgrades on Fourth Street from St. Joseph Avenue to Minnesota Avenue.
— Unanimously approved a pledge agreement for Sanitary Improvement District No. 1 of Clay County regarding the SID’s load with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to construct a new water distribution system.
— Unanimously approved modifying Hastings’ participation as a member of the National Public Gas Agency, which operates under the umbrella of Nebraska Municipal Power Pool with offices in Lincoln. The city of Hastings was one of the original founding members of the National Public Gas Agency organization in 1991. Hastings has not been an active participant since the late 1990s due to usage of existing staff capability for gas supply arrangements and desire to maintain local control of the energy resources that fit Hastings Utilities’ requirements. National Public Gas Agency bylaw changes have created the opportunity for Hastings to become an associate member and maintain ties to the organization without the responsibilities of full membership.
— Unanimously approved Ordinance 4591 to amend sections of city code dealing with council meetings and council worksessions. Council members also unanimously approved suspending the rules requiring three readings to pass an ordinance and passed Ordinance 4590 on the second and third reading.
— Unanimously approved a resolution setting City Council meetings and worksession dates, times and places. The resolution changes the date and location of council worksessions to the first Monday of the month in the city council chambers.
— Unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the mayor to execute all pertinent documents to accept a grant contract from the State of Nebraska Civic and Community Center Financing Fund. The City of Hastings is also pledging up to $7,500 toward the grant application with Adams County also providing up to $7,500 toward a local match for the grant application for a feasibility study to explore the potential need, location and programming for a cultural arts facility and recreation and senior center in Hastings.