Osage City hires new city manager

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Rod Willis, left, is welcomed as Osage City’s new city manager by Osage City Mayor Quintin Robert.

Osage City hired a new city manager Tuesday evening, with the city council authorizing the mayor to offer a contract to Rodney D. Willis, of Sterling.

Although the city manager decision was not included on the meeting’s agenda, the council added an executive session to the agenda to discuss attorney-client privileged information. Afterward, on a motion by Osage City Council Member Becky Brewer, the council authorized Osage City Mayor Quintin Robert to offer a contract to Willis, who was at the meeting in the audience.

After the meeting, Robert and Willis reviewed the contract together and Willis accepted it. Willis’ first day as Osage City manager is to be June 10.

Willis will fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Linda Jones, who retired in March after serving as city manager for two years.

Willis was the city manager of Sterling until January of this year, a position he had held for eight years. Adding to his municipality experience, Willis previously served on the Sterling City Council, and held the position of mayor for three terms. Sterling has a population of 2,328.

Including overseeing a staff of 21 employees and handling a $5.6 million annual budget, Willis’ resume lists major projects undertaken in Sterling while he was city manager: $1.4 million sewer lagoon; working with FEMA on a $1.2 million electrical reconductoring  project after a 2007 ice storm;  $1.7 million senior housing project; $250,000 Safe Routes To School grant; work with wholesale power supply and the town’s electrical generation; and experience working with Kansas Department of Transportation on KLINK projects and grants.

He holds a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education.

Willis also brings with him more than 20 years of financial experience, after having held the position of loan officer for several banks prior to becoming Sterling’s city manager. Willis also lists farming experience, having farmed wheat, grain sorghum, alfalfa, and farrowed hogs on 750 dryland acres in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Willis will bring his wife, Anne, with him to Osage County. He said Tuesday that Anne had secured employment with Three Lakes Educational Cooperative, where she will serve as a kindergarten to third-grade special education teacher at Lyndon. She previously worked in Hutchinson schools as a junior high school special education teacher.

The couple has two adult sons and a three-year-old grandson.

His personal interests include history and museums, travel, antique tractors, motorcycles, automobiles and aircraft, home restoration, and reading.

“I’m glad and excited to be here,” Willis said Tuesday night, saying he was eager to get started in his new job in Osage City.


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