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Hastings city administrator finalists named

Finalists for the Hastings city administrator position were announced Wednesday afternoon.

They are:

  • Lou Leone, city administrator in Nebraska City
  • Shawn Metcalf, city manager and CEO for Rawlins, Wyoming
  • Eric Rindfleisch, city administrator in Onalaska, Wisconsin
  • Matthew Schmitz, director of Community & Economic Development in Lansing, Kansas

Search firm Baker Tilley reviewed 34 applications for the position. On Monday, members of the Hastings City Council narrowed the field further from 13 candidates to the four finalists.

To get to this point, Baker Tilley gathered information about the position. That included the job description as well as meeting with the council and the mayor to get information about what they are looking for in the next city administrator.

Baker Tilley identified some of the opportunities the winning candidate is going to be working with when he or she starts the job and then conducted a national search for a month.

The search firm developed a questionnaire related to what Hastings City Council members were looking for in a candidate.

Baker Tilley also conducted one-way interviews.

The person selected will succeed Dave Ptak, who resigned in May. He had been on paid leave following the April 11 Hastings City Council meeting at which point Kevin Johnson, who is the utility manager, became acting city administrator.

Lou Leone

Leone has served as Nebraska City city administrator since 2020. Before that, Leone served in the same capacity in both New London, Wisconsin, and Kiowa, Kansas.

Leone also previously worked as a patent litigation paralegal for Kilpatrick Townsend in Denver.

He has a master of public administration from the University of Colorado Denver, School of Public Affairs; and a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois.

Shawn Metcalf

Metcalf has worked as city manager/CEO for Rawlins, Wyoming, since 2020.

He was associate vice president of human resources for Uintah Basin Technical College in Roosevelt, Utah, from 2015 until 2020.

He was the assistant city manager and served as the finance and human resources director in Roosevelt, Utah, from 2013-15.

Metcalf was the senior budget and management analyst for the city of San Antonio, Texas, in 2012-13 and management analyst for the city of San Antonio.

He has a master of public administration from Brigham Young University and a bachelor of recreation management and youth leadership from Brigham Young University.

Eric Rindfleisch

Rindfleisch has been city administrator for the city of Onalaska, Wisconsin, since 2017.

He was the director of administration for the city of Lodi, Wisconsin, in 2016 and 2017; village administrator/treasurer for McFarland, Wisconsin, from 2014 to 2016; and village administrator/clerk/treasurer for Edgar, Wisconsin, from 2011-14.

Rindfleisch has a master of public and nonprofit administration from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, and a bachelor of arts in international relations from University of Minnesota.

Matthew Schmitz

Schmitz has been director of Community & Economic Development for the city of Lansing, Kansas, since 2018.

He was management analyst/right-of-way manager for Shawnee, Kansas, from 2015-18; senior engineering technician for Shawnee from 2012-15; and engineering technician for Shawnee from 2006-12.

Schmitz has a master of public administration from the University of Kansas in Overland Park, Kansas; bachelor of science in business administration from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas; associates of applied science – civil engineering technology from Johnson County Community College in Overland Park.

High and Dry
New development west of Hastings Middle School to offer storage space
The all-steel construction units will be surrounded by a security fence, with individual security codes provided for user entry.

A new development on the west side of Hastings will give owners of recreational vehicles, campers, boats, automobiles and other large items a safe place to park their belongings.

ALL REC Storage has broken ground on a project at 3110 W. Second St. that owners Julie and Greg Ellenwood of Republican City think will meet a long-standing need in Hastings for easily accessible storage space for large vehicles and similar-size items.

The all-steel construction units will be surrounded by a security fence, with individual security codes provided for user entry.

The property is on the north side of West Second Street, just west of the Hastings Middle School campus at 201 N. Marian Road.

It’s the first new development to occur in the stretch of Second Street between Marian Road and the Hastings Regional Center property since the middle school was completed in 2008.

Contrary to what some making inquiries had suggested, however, access to the storage units won’t require a boat trip into the property.

That’s a fact the Ellenwoods — former Hastings residents — and Sean Ablott, project general contractor, were quick to point out, given the property’s proximity to the wetlands situated behind the middle school.

“It is not in a floodplain,” Julie said of the storage facility property. “To the north of our lot is wetlands. We made sure that it is not on wetlands. We’ve gone to extra lengths to make sure we’re providing a top-notch facility.”

Ablott, whose company, Flatland Sales, is building the units, said the designated five-plus acre parcel is neither situated in a floodplain nor designated wetlands area, as some making inquiries have wondered aloud.

“None of that parcel was ever wetlands,” Ablott said. “Before the owners purchased the land, they did their due diligence to ensure it was never in the floodplain. It never was.”

Flatland broke ground on the project Aug. 15 following months of planning with the owners. Units will consist of two fully enclosed 40-by-240-foot buildings available in 15-by-40-foot stalls.

A third building measuring 60 by 196 feet will feature compartmentalized spaces that are 14 by 26 feet and 14 by 34 feet.

Uncovered outdoor space measuring 14 by 35 feet and 14 by 40 feet will give those looking to store their boat, recreational vehicle or similar-size item a safe place to park.

Progress has been swift to date.

“We’re going to be digging footings Monday afternoon and pouring concrete all week next week,” Ablott said in an interview last week.

Ablott said the development is a welcomed sight for those hoping for growth on the largely undeveloped side of town.

“It’s good to see things going on in our community out west,” he said.

Julie said the family’s new business already has secured commitments on several of the units, which she said could be completed as early as Nov. 1.

And with more than two acres of the five-plus acre lot still available for expansion, her hope is that the lot will serve to meet the needs of area residents for years to come.

“It’s a good feeling that it’s not even up yet and we’ve already got contracts,” she said. “Hopefully it will be all ready for everybody to put all their toys away for winter.”

CCC partnering with online unversity for academic transfers

Central Community College has forged an agreement with a fully online national university for a new academic transfer relationship that could further CCC students’ educational goals.

The agreement between CCC and Western Governors University, a nonprofit institution, was announced in a news release Sept. 6.

Under the arrangement, the two institutions will seek to develop a “seamless transfer of credits” for CCC students graduating with associate’s degrees to go on and pursue bachelor’s degrees and then possibly master’s degrees from WGU.

Students transferring from CCC to WGU would be eligible for scholarships. The Community College Partner Scholarship is valued at up to $2,500 and would be applied to WHU’s flat-rate tuition of about $3,800 per six-month term.

Nebraskans attending WGU also would be eligible to apply for the Nebraska Partnership Scholarship, valued at up to $4,000.

Finally, some students would qualify for the Nebraska Opportunity Grant, a needs-based grant offered by the state of Nebraska for students who meet certain residency, enrollment and financial need criteria.

Meanwhile, the state of Nebraska itself has made a commitment to Western Governors University, a private institution based in Millcreek, Utah, established in 1997 by the governors of 19 U.S. states with a mission to expand access to high-quality affordable higher education online.

Gov. Pete Ricketts recently signed a memorandum of understanding with WGU to expand access to affordable, high-quality degree programs for the estimated 306,000 Nebraska residents who have some college credits but no bachelor’s degree.

According to the memorandum, Nebraska will collaborate with and promote Western Governors University in hopes of targeting underserved populations including dislocated workers, veterans and rural residents.

WGU, for its part, is to work with local employers and employer organizations to address workforce needs throughout the state.

CCC President Matt Gotschall said the college’s relationship with WGU would advance the state’s goals related to Nebraskans’ educational development.

“Flexible transfer agreements with WGU will provide yet another high-quality option for our CCC students and for the state of Nebraska to reach our goal of having at least 70% of 25- to 34-year-old Nebraskans to have a degree, certificate, diploma or other postsecondary or industry-recognized credential by 2030,” Gotschall said in the news release.

Terrance Hopson, regional vice president of WGU, said the partnership with CCC will be good for Nebraska’s workforce.

“WGU values the important role community colleges play in upskilling the workforce and is pleased to offer an affordable and flexible pathway for thousands of Nebraskans who need postsecondary education and training to advance their careers and, in turn, their lives,” Hopson said.

Western Governors University currently serves more than 131,000 students nationwide and has more than 288,000 graduates in all 50 U.S. states. It has been billed as the nation’s leading competency-based university.

For more information about the CCC-WGU partnership, visit