While in some larger municipalities, city hall and its staff may be unknown entities to much of the population, that is not the case in a small community like Halstead — and City Administrator Ethan Reimer wouldn't have it any other way.
Given that city hall is not some "mysterious building that people barely go into," Reimer and the rest of the city staff have plenty of one-on-one interactions with citizens on a daily basis. Reimer, in fact, looks forward to that and hearing what Halstead residents have to say. Ultimately, those residents are who he serves and Reimer appreciates the opportunity to work with the Halstead City Council to do just that.
"The part that really appeals to me is that interaction with the elected officials who have that awesome responsibility of trying to filter out what the people who voted for them want," Reimer said, "... being able to make sure that the people who are making the decisions make the most informed decisions they can, being able to put in that time, and just making sure that we're taking the needs of an entire city into account."
People have taken notice of Reimer's commitment to his role as city administrator, too — and not just in Halstead. Recently, at the Kansas Association for City Managers conference, he was recognized with the Early Career Excellence Award. Reimer was one of only two city managers/administrators from across Kansas to receive the award.
Halstead City Council President Ed Campbell nominated Reimer for the award, which is intended to recognize local government professionals early in their career (within their first five years) who demonstrate excellence in the profession and strong promise to positively impact the profession. Reimer was singled out for the projects he has helped bring to fruition (i.e. the DRAGON Grant program) in Halstead, assisting the city council in its effectiveness as a governing body, providing steady leadership during the tumultuous time at which he took the position of city administrator and more.
"There is obviously a sense of pride that some of the things that we've done are ideas that — like the downtown (DRAGON) grant program, that kind of thing — were things that caught their attention," Reimer said. "It's humbling to have people who have years of experience in the field look at the two years I've been here and say 'we see really good signs and we think that's going to mean wherever you are you're going to do great things,' so that's just humbling."
Officially, Reimer began his career in city hall as Halstead city clerk in 2014 and served as clerk and city administrator starting January 2017 before fully taking the latter role as of June 2017. The Sedgwick native had previously served as an intern for Harvey County Economic Development and was also part of the Sedgwick City Planning Commission while earning his degree from Wichita State University.
Serving in a managerial role in both the restaurant and financial industries, it wasn't until Reimer started work with the planning commission that he began to consider working towards his masters degree in public administration — though his parents (including former longtime Sedgwick City Administrator Jaci Reimer) were somewhat of an influence as well.
"Growing up with both my mom and dad definitely instilled that drive for public service and giving something back to the community that you choose to live in," Reimer said.
After Reimer started as city clerk in Halstead, he knew administration was in his future (and preferably in a smaller community). Now, in Halstead, he handles a lot of oversight of the day-to-day responsibilities among the various departments (police, chief, public works, etc.).
While Reimer knows he still has work to do to best manage has daily responsibilities (i.e. managing utilities), he has a strong staff in city hall and among the various departments to assist him. Grateful as he is to have gotten this opportunity, Reimer also said while he holds the position of city administrator he will continue to strive to ensure Halstead's long-term success and make it an "excellent" place to live.
"I feel very fortunate to be here and hope to serve for years to come," Reimer said. "I hope to continue to provide the best possible service to all citizens and definitely hope they know that if there are issues/concerns, even if they want to visit about the future of the community, my door's always open to anyone who wants to come in and talk to me."