By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN There were some very sad faces on the members of the Winsted City Council at its special Tuesday meeting when City Administrator Brent Mareck announced he has accepted the position of city administrator for the City of Carver. Mareck’s last day in Winsted will be May 15.
Mareck has been Winsted’s city administrator for almost nine years and it was obvious by the council’s response to the news, his leadership capabilities have gained their respect, as they told him that he would be missed.
Mayor Steve Stotko told Mareck he has been an asset to the community.
“I am sure if you asked anyone who has worked with Brent, they’d all basically say the same things,” Stotko said; “he is professional, intelligent, thoughtful, sincere, dedicated, and organized, and the list could go on and on,” he said.
Mareck is just as appreciative of the encouragement and assistance he has received while serving the City of Winsted. He was 24 years old with only an internship experience, when he began serving as Winsted’s administrator.
“No matter where my career takes me or what happens in my personal life, I will always be grateful for the council giving me that shot,” Mareck said. “It would have been real easy to give it to someone else with more experience.”
The decision to leave Winsted was not an easy one for Mareck. He even told the Carver people during one of his interviews that he was in a really good place right now as Winsted’s city administrator, with great people to work for and with.
He felt like he really had nothing to lose if he didn’t get the position because he enjoyed his job in Winsted too.
“It (Winsted) is a great place to work. Whoever gets this job is going to be very lucky to have it.”
But Mareck took a long hard look at Carver at its history, what it’s doing now, how it is planning for the future and it just seemed like a really good fit for him.
“Once I started the process, every time I went there, it just felt a little bit better, like this was where I wanted to be,” Mareck said. “I am glad it worked out.”
There are many visible reminders of successful projects completed during Mareck’s time as Winsted administrator, but he does not consider them to be personal achievements, “because not just one person let that happen,” Mareck said. “I think there is a lot of things that the community accomplished, and the city accomplished more specifically, since I have been here, but I don’t think it is fair to give me or anybody else all of the credit for that.”
The team effort of the five council members and his staff, Mareck describes working like a “house of cards.”
“If you don’t have every piece or every card where it needs to be, the whole thing collapses.”
Although Mareck was not willing to discuss any of the completed projects which happened during his time in Winsted, he did volunteer that he had a favorite day the grand opening of the new city hall.
Not just because the building and lakefront promenade had been completed, but because it was the fourth anniversary of the design team that had started the entire city center project with a vision.
Mareck compared it to sports in high school and wanting to win the big game. Being a part of something that starts at the bottom, and then winning that state championship.
The Winsted city center project had started with nothing but a vision. “Getting 200 people together in a small town and saying, ‘OK, what do you want to do here?’ and just building on that,” Mareck said.
It is that challenge of beginning again, working through different issues that are unique to Carver, that seems to be the pull that has taken Mareck from Winsted.
“They are looking at building a city hall sometime in the future and I think that is a project I am looking forward to helping them out with and sharing some of the experiences that we had here in Winsted,” Mareck said.
“This is a different type of growth potential. There are a different set of expectations because they don’t know me other than meeting me through the interview process,” Mareck said. “I think that is a challenge.”
Carver is a town with a population of approximately 2,900.
“They just built an extension of 212 out to Carver, so there is an interchange there that will lead to a lot of development, and there is also this core of the historic downtown.”
Mareck will begin his duties as the city administrator in Carver Monday, May 17.
As Mareck moves on to face some exciting new challenges, he wants people to know he will come back to Winsted to visit from time to time. He has promised Council Member Bonnie Quast he will be volunteering at Winstock.
He also promises to return for other Winsted events because he regards Winsted as his second home, where he has made life-long friendships.
“If you really want to be a good city administrator, you have to love the city that you are working in,” Mareck said, “not think of it as an inanimate object. I tried to think as if this person was my neighbor, or if this was happening to me, or would I want to have this in my neighborhood, and you end up really caring about a place and the people,” Mareck said.
“Hopefully people saw that, and know that was the way I tried to handle things, and that is how they will remember me moving forward,” Mareck said.
What’s next for the city
Following Brent’s announcement at Tuesday’s meeting that he would be leaving Winsted, the council reviewed a proposal to hire Shannon Sweeney of David Drown Associates, at a cost not to exceed $4,800, to help with the search and hiring of a new city administrator.
Sweeney has worked with the City of Winsted when it applied for a small city grant with Mayer, and is also one of the administrators who is responsible for making sure federal standards are followed by Winsted residents when the small cities’ grants are awarded.
Some of the preliminary work Sweeney will provide for the city administrator search will be a questionnaire for applicants to fill out with a point system to evaluate the answers, run background checks and reference checks, and assist in preparing the administrator’s employment contract.
Mareck told the council there are other companies that could be hired to go through this preliminary work but they could charge as much as $15,000 for the service.
The council unanimously agreed to hire Sweeney. It also agreed to have Mayor Steve Stotko appoint a hiring committee made up of council members, and to authorize the advertising of the position.