City Administrator resigns

By Dennis Minich

A rather mundane meeting of the Harrisonville Board of Aldermen took a bizarre turn Monday night when after an executive session, it was announced City Administrator Happy Welch had resigned his position.

The board was informed of the resignation during the session by Mayor Judy Bowman and acting City Attorney Steve Mauer.

Mike Tholen, the former finance director of the city and the person who served as interim city administrator prior to Welch’s hiring will be returning to the city on a part-time basis to serve while a search is held for a new administrator.

The exact dynamics of the resignation are unclear as Welch was not present in the session, but Mauer said the resignation was made verbally and said “there was no resignation letter.”

While both Mauer and Bowman said nothing had been told to the board prior to the session, it appeared at least some members were aware of the upcoming action.

During the routine procedure of voting to go to executive session, three members of the board, David Dickerson, Clint Miller and Brad Bockelman all voted no. dditionally, Matt Turner was absent from the meeting.

When the board adjourned to the executive session, Dickerson, Miller and Bockelman all left the building. Bockelman and Dickerson were outside con-
versing with others during the same time as the executive session.

Calls requesting comment were not returned.

Both Mauer and Bowman said none of the board members had been given any information about Welch’s resignation and if the four members of the board who did not attend the executive session knew about it, they had found out about it from another source.

Late Monday night, Bowman sent a letter to all city employees. It read:
“The mayor and Board of Aldermen have accepted the resignation of Happy Welch as Harrisonville City Administrator effective tomorrow, August 6, 2019. We wish Happy all the best in the future and thank him for his service to our City.

“Mike Tholen, former Finance Director and Interim City Administrator for the City of Harrisonville will join us on Wednesday, August 7, 2019. Mike will serve as Interim City Administrator as the Board works to recruit a replacement for Mr. Welch. Mike will work three days a week and Police Chief John Hofer will be in charge of the City on the days that Mike is not in the office. Chief Hofer will also facilitate Tuesday morning’s staff meeting.

“Many of you know and have worked with Mike in the past. If you have not, I want to assure you that you and the City are in competent and capable hands during this time of transition. Please join me in welcoming Mike back to Harrisonville.

“Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. Thanks for all you do for Harrisonville.”

During the regular meeting there was little indication of a major change coming. Welch conducted the work session prior to the meeting and conducted the administrator’s business during the regular meeting as usual. During his re port, he noted the board had his written report and there was nothing to add.

Contacted Tuesday morning, Welch would not comment on his resignation,
but did have kind words for the city.

“This is a great community, we’ve made friends, gotten involved and met a lot of good people. It is just a good place,” he said.

Welch said he is confident about both his future and the city’s.
“The city is in good shape. The people I worked with are some of the best,” he said.

About his future, he said, “It is nice to be able to sit back and contemplate that.”

Welch is the second city official hired by former mayor, Brian Hasek, to resign.

Former city attorney John Fairfield resigned in April, the night Bowman was sworn into office. He was replaced on an interim basis by Mauer, who had also previously served as city attorney. The process of hiring a new attorney is still ongoing.

Welch started with the city in January, 2017. Prior to coming to coming to Harrisonville, he was the city administrator in Festus for five years and before that had served as city administrator in Pevely. He had also served as a building official in Festus prior to that.

Welch has been active participant in the community. Besides his work with the city, Welch has been an active member of the Harrisonville Kiwanis Club and the Lions Club. He was recently elected president of the Harrisonville Lions Club. He has also been heavily involved with the Love the Square organization and was instrumental in helping the city get connected with the Missouri Main Street Coalition, which helps cities
prepare and execute revitalization plans.

None of the four aldermen who attended the executive session or the mayor would comment further Monday night.


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