Assistant to the City manger Barack Matite and Parks & Rec Director Gary Scott hold the ribbon in place for the ceremony dedicating the new walking trail along Church Street. Cutting the ribbon are (l-r: Sunflower Foundation Program Officer Elizabeth Sewart, School Board members Joe Hurla, Belinda Rehmer, Joe Pyle, and City Commission members Jolene Born and Tim Reazin. Photo by Eudorareporter.com reporter Diane Chrislip)
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A group of people braved the brisk temperatures and occasional raindrops to attend the ribbon cutting for the Eudora South Trail, a paved walkway that winds gracefully along Church Street in front of the middle school and high school.
The trail was made possible due to a generous grant from Sunflower Foundation along with the collaborative efforts of the City of Eudora and the Eudora School District.
“This is a great start to our master park and trail plan,” said City Commission member Tim Reazin. “I hope this leads to a walkway across K-10 to connect the city north and south and provide a safe pathway for pedestrians and bicyclists.”
Eudora Mayor Ruth Hughs said the idea for a trail began in January 2012 when a committee began meeting to develop a recreation master plan. The input from the public indicated a great interest in additional trails and parks in Eudora. The Eudora South Trail is the result of efforts on the part of a multitude of citizens and city leaders. One of the goals in the master plan is to eventually have trails and sidewalks connecting all parts of Eudora.
Both Eudora District Superintendent Don Grosdidier and Eudora Recreation Director Gary Scott are struck by the number of people who already walk, jog or bicycle on the trail every day.
“Before the trail was even finished people were walking on it,” City Manager Mike Press said.
“It’s going to be very pretty,” Hughs said of the trail and the recently planted trees along it. “It will add to the aesthetics of our town.”
School board member Joe Pyle was especially impressed by the teamwork between the school district and the city.
“This trail will enhance the quality of life for all the citizens of Eudora,” Pyle said.
City Commissioner Jolene Born expressed much appreciation to Sunflower Foundation for the grant and for their support of healthy living. “Without them, we wouldn’t be here today.”
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The Eudora City Commission on Monday night hired Mike Press as the new City Manager. Press, who has served as Interim City Manager since March of this year, was hired on annual contract basis. The initial contract will run one year, with an option to renew it yearly for two additional years.
Press worked for the Johnson County, KS government for nearly 30 years, the last ten as County Manager before retiring in 2009. Press also served as Interim City Manager for the cities of both Gardner, KS and Edgerton, KS in 2011 and 2012. Press replaces John Harrenstein who left Eudora in March for a similar position in North Mankato, MN.
Press, who had stated emphatically upon his arrival that he was most certainly “interim”, had a change of heart in his three short months in Eudora.
“This is a great community and I’ve grown to appreciate and love this town,” Press said following the announcement.
Press had worked with the City Commission in trying to find an permanent Manager. Just a month ago, the Commission had narrowed down the pool of applicants to two finalists and offered the job to one of them, with Press not being one of the finalists. The identity of the finalist the position was offered to was not identified by name.
“The situation with the other applicant did not work out,” Press told us. Press said he could not elaborate further on the events surrounding why it did not work out.
Other applicants were interviewed by the Commission but according to Mayor Ruth Hughs, none of the other candidates sparked serious interest by the Commission as a permanent City Manager.
“I believe Eudora needs and deserves a City Manager who has passion and drive to move a city forward,” Hughs said. “We are on a journey to excellence and finding the right City Manager to get us there is critical. Mike embodies all the qualities we could want in a City Manager.”
Commission Kenny Massey also had high praise for the work Press has done as Interim City Manager.
“He’s provided us great leadership for the last few months and with his experience in Johnson County plus the contacts he has already built up over the years, we thought this was the right thing to do,” Massey said. “I’m excited about his experience and knowledge he will bring to the table in the future.”
When asked if the Commission had to work hard to get Press to stay on permanently, Massey said that the City didn’t have to do much arm twisting.
“While I can’t speak for Mike directly, I really think when he got here, he felt really comfortable in this town. I think he saw the potential and the opportunity to help move Eudora forward,” Massey stated.
During his time as Interim City Manager, Press’ agenda was to help keep the city functioning and moving forward, but not necessarily delve into long term projects and initiatives. Now that the interim tagged has been removed we asked what he plans on for the coming months as the new City Manager.
“We’ve got to look at economic development in Eudora,” Press said. “Bringing in new families and new business while retaining and expanding the current businesses is such an important factor. I also plan on making sure our infrastructure is maintained and improvements to it are made in the future.”