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New leader takes reins of PR council

Park Rapids Mayor Pat Mikesh, right, talks with interim city administrator John McKinney at Tuesday's council meeting. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Park Rapids' new mayor got down to brass tacks quickly Tuesday evening, moving upcoming city meetings to 6 p.m.

The 7 p.m. slot costs the city too much overtime in staff wages, Pat Mikesh suggested. Meetings starting Jan. 22 will be held at 6 p.m. with workshops starting at 5 p.m. That particular day, the council will conduct a workshop at 5 p.m. to discuss the status of Tax Increment Financing districts.

Mikesh, surrounded by family, slid easily into the mayor's chair. His two sisters, daughter and mother appeared in the audience to cheer him on. The shy man, whose face reddens easily, introduced them at the end of the meeting.

Mikesh took the oath of office with newly re-elected council member Dave W. Konshok and newly elected member Rod Nordberg, who filled in when Konshok was deployed to Afghanistan three years ago.

A number of resolutions were passed in a consent agenda, for items considered to be non-controversial.

The council also declared a vacancy for the seat left open when Mikesh, a former councilman, defeated Nancy Carroll in November's election.

The city will advertise for candidates to fill the position.

"Are there any confidentiality problems?" Nordberg asked of prospective candidate biographies, which must be submitted with an application.

"If you don't want your name mentioned don't apply," city administrator John McKinney said.

Ideally the council would interview prospective candidates at the Jan. 22 meeting if enough apply. Then the council could make a decision soon enough to have a new council member on board by February.

Until then, council members delayed making permanent committee assignments.

"I kind of like the committees I was on," laughed councilman Paul Utke.

The council also decided to form a search committee to fill McKinney's spot, which will be vacant in August.

"Isn't it August yet? It sure feels like it," the interim city administrator laughed. The seasonal resident from Iowa is used to more balmy winters, he admitted. He was pressed into service when city administrator Bill Smith took a job out of state last year, then agreed to extend his services into August. McKinney is a retired attorney.

Utke jokingly tapped his watch as the meeting went a minute past a half hour, warning Mikesh he would be keeping track of how swiftly the new mayor could conduct business.

Mikesh took it all in stride, but seemed clearly relieved his first meeting was over as he accepted hugs and congratulations.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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