Helin honored at last council meeting
Bonner Springs City Manager John “Jack” Helin insisted that the city not throw a big blowout to honor his retirement, but the Bonner Springs City Council did the best it could at its meeting Monday.
Mayor Jeff Harrington read a proclamation recognizing Helin’s 13-plus years with the city and setting Oct. 26 as John “Jack” Helin Day in the city, saying it was important to note this milestone in the city’s history.
“Although we are not having cake and ice cream, because some of us don’t really like cake and ice cream, I guess,” Harrington said, with a pointed look at Helin, “we do have a proclamation.”
The proclamation noted Helin’s efforts open door policy with staff, his dedication to citizens and leadership and his efforts to uphold the Athenian oath.
“(He) will truly transmit this city not only not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to him,” Harrington said.
Helin began with the city in July of 2002, having served as a city administrator in Central City, Neb., after a 21-year career in the Army.
Several community members attended the meeting, including former city clerk Rita Hoag and former mayors Clausie Smith and Gene Reynolds.
“You were a great leader, you were a great friend, and I’ll tell you what, this city is greatly improved because you were here,” Smith said.
City Councilman George Cooper, known to butt heads at times with Helin, presented him with a wooden bench signed by city employees, council members and other notable community members.
“You’ve helped me grow as a councilman; I came on and I thought I’ve got all the answers,” Cooper said. “This guy will teach you that you don’t have all the answers.”
He also jokingly presented Helin with a Dale Earnhardt “The Intimidator” collectible toy car.
“I’ve gotta find somebody to argue with now,” Cooper later added. “You were good for our city.”
Harrington said while Helin’s retirement would be a big change, the city was poised for greatness due to the work he had done.
“The professionalism in city is unsurpassed,” Harrington said. “You were the point man for a lot of decisions and policies that have been made, and you made them well.”
For his part, Helin said his accomplishments were thanks to a team effort.
“It’s been a privilege working for the citizens of this community; for you, the elected officials,” Helin said. “It’s been an honor to work with my fellow teammates, because I think we all think of ourselves as a team.”
Helin thanked his wife, the three mayors he worked with, council members, employees who work around the clock to keep the city and its utilities running, and especially the department heads.
“This city should be pleased and proud that they’ve got such a great group of department heads that make everything happen,” he said.
During the meeting, the council also approved the establishment of the city manager salary at $105,000 and a contract for Sean Pederson, the new city manager, who began Tuesday. Pederson comes to Bonner Springs after serving as city manager in Canton, S.D.