City manager maintained proper focus

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Because he faced many tough issues during his years as McCook's city manager, John Bingham often felt the sting of public criticism.

Yet -- as he prepares to depart for a job in Oregon -- past and present members of the McCook City Council are joining in praise of his performance in McCook during some very trying times.

"John is diligent, conscientious and a very hard worker," said former Mayor Jerda Garey. "He served a key role in accomplishing major projects, including the water treatment, B Street and sewer projects."

The present mayor, Dennis Berry, agrees. "John served the city well. He provided great guidance during the water-sewer crisis. It's a compliment to him that, as he departs, all the projects are ahead of schedule and under budget."

Phil Lyons, a former mayor and the longest-serving member of the council, praised Bingham for staying on task. "He was a good manager and was a great help to the city's newer department heads."

Lyons continued, "I would like to give John a pat on the back for maintaining his focus through the water issue. He arrived after the air base purchase, and guided the city through the litigation, the sale and the tax bump required to pay off the city's obligation."

One of the newest members of the council, Bill Longnecker, also had kind words for the departing manager. "John did a good job of budgeting. He is leaving us in sound financial condition, with money set aside for future projects."

The past and present council members also expressed appreciation to Bingham and his wife, Jo, for their contributions to community life. "They were active in their church and in the community's social and civic activities," Mayor Berry said.

Hearing all this praise is a rare happening for a city manager. Usually, managers are on the receiving end of complaints about high taxes and service problems. With all the progress made in the past five years on major city projects, can citizens expect smooth sailing in the years to come? "Don't count on it," says Phil Lyons. "I've been on the council for 16 years, and there's always something."

In anticipation, the council will begin its search for a new city manager as it bids farewell to Bingham. "We will begin the process of selecting a successor Monday night," Berry said.

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