City hires new community development director

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

City staff introduced and welcomed the city’s new community development director during Tuesday night’s meeting of the Fort Scott City Commission.

Robert Uhler, who is originally from Topeka, will take over the position formerly held by Rhonda Dunn, who has recently moved into the position of director of finance. Uhler said he and his family have lived in Fort Scott for the last 21 years.

“I appreciate the opportunity to work with the citizens of Fort Scott, city staff and commissioners,” Uhler said. “Thank you for your confidence.”

City Manager Dave Martin announced at the Sept. 4 commission meeting that the opening for community development director would be posted on the city’s website, and interviews would begin taking place as applications came in.

Martin said Tuesday he received four or five applications, and three candidates were interviewed. Uhler started in the position Sept. 10.

“Robert has the best and most experience necessary,” Martin said. “He’s been valuable to us already.”

Martin said Uhler will work closely with Director of Economic Development Rachel Pruitt and Dunn, who continues to have oversight of the codes department, as part of a team effort toward the city’s short and long-range plans and goals. Uhler will also work on plans to “get additional money” for city projects.

Uhler told the Tribune he will be working on developing “positive, quality-of-life projects” for the city, such as improvements to infrastructure including sidewalks and trails. He also plans to work on “building relationships” and “elevating our profile” with local, state and federal officials. He said part of his duties will include occasional trips to Topeka and Washington, D.C.

“We’ll look at funding and grants, for things to raise the profile of Fort Scott,” he said. “It’s a team effort.”

Dunn had worked as community development director since 2017. Dunn replaced Jon Garrison, who earlier this month announced his plans to retire. Garrison had worked since 2012 in his second run in that position.

Dunn said Tuesday she is “learning in her new job” and is part of a “great team of people working” for the city.

“Things are running smooth right now,” she said.

Uhler is one of the city’s directors who will report to Martin. Uhler’s annual salary was not available at press time.

Dunn earned an annual salary of $57,000 as community development director and her salary was bumped to $67,000 in her new position.

Other business

• The commission approved the low bid of $9,900 from SMM Holdings LLC of Fort Scott for removal of brush, trees, weeds and debris from public waterways in Fort Scott.

The work areas to addressed are from 23rd Street to U.S. Highway 69 and from Seventh Street to National Avenue.

Dunn said the city received five bids: Doug Miller of Fort Scott with a $12,000 bid; Rogers & Sons Concrete of Fort Scott with a $19,150 bid; Marbery Concrete of Fort Scott with a $47,300 bid; and Infinity Land Management with a $98,500 bid. Funds for the work will be paid out of the city’s stormwater fund, Dunn said.

A story on other commission business will appear in Saturday’s edition of the Tribune.