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CITY BEAT: TIM GLEASON’S RETURN AS CITY MANAGER IS GOOD NEWS FOR DECATUR

Paul Osborne
Editor/Publisher

     Monday evening, the Decatur City Council voted its approval to bring back Tim Gleason as the next city manager.
     Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe announced the council’s intention to hire Gleason at a press conference Thursday and initial reaction before the announcement was made, and after the press conference, was positive.
     Replacing a city manager is never an easy task but the decision to bring back Gleason, after council knew he was interested in returning to Decatur, was undoubtedly one of the easier ones made regarding what person to hire to replace the present City Manager Scot Wrighton who is retiring next month.
     Gleason previously served as Decatur City Manager for 3.5 years from 2015-2018. He left Decatur to take the city manager job for the City of Bloomington, IL, and now returns after nearly six years there. Gleason said he chose Decatur despite an offer to stay in Bloomington and one to take the same job in Florence, AZ.
     According to information released to the media “Gleason’s salary will be $230,000 annually. Other notable benefits include six weeks paid vacation, and a $650 monthly vehicle allowance that will be transferred to a deferred compensation retirement plan. “Additionally, Gleason would get one year to establish permanent residency and $20,000 toward relocation expenses, as Moore Wolfe said he is looking for a home within the city limits, but he may choose to build.”
     Full details of the employment contract were included in the City Council packet for the April 1, 2024 meeting.
     Before his first stint in Decatur, Gleason held positions as the City Administrator for the City of Washington, IL, a Deputy Director of the IL Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO), and a law enforcement officer for the City of Pekin for 21 years.
     Gleason’s projected start date is May 6, 2024.

     • I HAD a good relationship with Tim Gleason during his earlier time as city manager. The communication lines were always open and we discussed issues and projects facing the city council, both in my role as this newspaper’s editor and former mayor of Decatur.
     I hated to see him accept the position in Bloomington and leave our community because I felt he did an excellent job as Decatur’s City Manager.
     One phone call I received from him is forever burned into my memory. It came on the morning of July 17, 2015, when the first words out of his mouth to me were “We’ve lost the mayor”.          

     I didn’t quite know what he meant but, a few seconds later he told me that Mayor Mike McElroy, who was the duly-elected mayor following my years in office, and a good friend, had passed away.
     That was a jolt for both of us. Mike “Tuna” McElroy was only 63 years old when he died and had been a strong ally as a councilman during the years I served as mayor.
     It’s hard to believe that it will be 9 years this summer since he passed away.

     • THE SEARCH for a city manager is never an easy process for a mayor and city council members.
A search firm is hired that provides a list of potential candidates for the position and then there is a process of interviewing and narrowing down the number of applicants and then making a decision on which person should be the next city manager.
Oftentimes, candidates will look for another position because they’ve worn out their welcome in the community they presently serve, or there are candidates who are looking for a city manager’s position for the first time after serving in another administrative position in a community’s government.
     There are also those who look to take on more responsibility, and greater benefits, by finding a position with a larger city than the one they presently serve.
     Sometimes, it is difficult for a city council to determine which person would be best suited for that city’s administrative leadership position.

     • NEARLY a decade ago, when Tim Gleason was applying for the Decatur City Manager’s position, he was interviewed by the mayor and council.
     As I mentioned on last Thursday’s Byers & Co. on WSOY, I was later told by a member of council who was present for that private interview that Gleason’s presentation far exceeded anyone else who applied for the position — and he got the job!
So, now he is returning to again be city manager with a knowledge of, and background in, Decatur — with six more years of experience as Bloomington’s City Manager under his belt!
     Offering Gleason the position again had to be one of the easiest decisions any council has made in years!
     Best wishes to Tim Gleason and welcome back to Decatur!

     • DAN WEBER of Mount Zion, sent me the following email and some photos of Pugh and Roosevelt schools after reading a recent “Scrapbook’ article:
     “Your article on Packard St. in the March 20th Tribune sure brought back some childhood memories! I went to kindergarten at Pugh School in the 1945-1946 school year. We lived north of town at the corner of MLK and Comet and rode the Interurban to town each day to get to Pugh.
     “I remember my classroom was on the south side of the building and first day my mom sat out in the playground, south of the building, because I didn’t want her to leave. I tried to climb up the radiator (under the window) so I could see her waiting for me out there. 5 year-olds can really ‘stress’ teachers can’t they? Miss Herrin was the teacher.
     “In 1949 we moved to the 2700 blk N. Church and 1952-1955 I went to Roosevelt. I remember ‘boys entrance’ west end and ‘girls entrance’ east end of building. Boys gym west end (coach Dutch Henry) and girls gym east end. Boys were allowed to the girls gym for ‘square dance’ class with the girls during one of those years. I remember F&B Bottling — I liked Grapette and Whistle that came from there.”
     Thanks for the memories, Dan. Whenever I’m driving on West Grand, I always look over towards the windows of my homeroom at the former Roosevelt Junior High School and think about my homeroom teacher, Mrs. Fanti, and the days I spent there. That’s been a long time ago, but not so far back when viewed from the heart.

     I printed one of the photos Dan sent me on page 3 of this week’s print and online editions of the Decatur Tribune.  It shows one of the Roosevelt classes when I was a student but there are so many kids in the class  and the photo is small that I couldn’t find where I was in the photo.  (Of course, I looked a little different in the ninth grade than I do now.)  

     • POLITE, BUT...I had to drive to the north side of Decatur, so I decided to stop at the downtown post office to check for our mail.
     As anyone who has parked in front of the post office knows, the traffic on Franklin Street, flows through at a pretty rapid speed.
     I was returning to my car with a lot of traffic coming in the lane closest to my car in the parking spaces. So, I waited patiently for all the cars to pass and they just kept coming — and I kept standing there.
     Finally, a driver stopped his car and signalled me to get into my car.
     I waved a “thank you” to the driver for his courtesy and then, before I could get my car door open, he blasted by me like a crazy driver!!!!!!
     I must of had three inches between my car door and his vehicle!
     I wonder if this person realized that being “polite” required a few extra seconds of patience while I got into my car!
     I usually walk to the post office and that is probably safer than driving and parking in front.
     Be careful getting in and out of your car if you park in front of the downtown post office.

     • BY THE WAY, the posted speed limit through downtown is 25 mph. Apparently, a lot of drivers have eye problems and read it as 52 mph!

     • I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. at 7:00 every Thursday morning for the “City Hall Insider”. I’ve enjoyed our conversations each week for the past 21 years.

   • FOR LOTS more comments, local news and historical features, subscribe to the Decatur Tribune print or online editions (or both) by going to the “Subscribe” prompt at the top of the page.  You can also subscribe to the print edition by sending a check for $50.00 for one year (52 issues) to: Decatur Tribune, P. O. Box 1490, Decatur, IL 62525-1490.  We mail you copy to any location in the United States.

 

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