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Paynesville Press - November 21, 2001

City picks new administrator

By Linda Stelling

Steven Helget The Paynesville City Council selected Steven Helget as its next city administrator at its meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 14.

Helget is currently the city administrator in Eagle Lake near Mankato. He was one of three finalists interviewed for the position from a field of 24 candidates.

Following the interviews two weeks ago, each council member ranked the candidates. These rankings were tabulated with Helget coming out on top. "The vote was close," said Mayor Jeff Thompson.

The city personnel committee met on Monday night to start negotiating a salary with Helget, who has expressed interest in the position but has not accepted it yet.

The council hopes he'll be able to start by the first of the year.

A native of Sleepy Eye, Helget attended St. Cloud State University for public administration and earned his master's degree in urban and regional studies from Minnesota State University in Mankato. He has been the city administrator in Eagle Lake for three years and previously was the city administrator in Tyler for four years.

Because Eagle Lake is growing, Helget has been involved with five annexations and the platting of four housing subdivisions, creating 140 new lots, during his short time there.

"It's not uncommon for a city administrator to oversee more than one project," he told the council during his interview two weeks ago. Having more than one project at a time is the nice part of a growing community, he added.

Helget said two skills needed by a city administrator are leadership and the ability to communicate. He described his greatest strength as liking his job and his weakness as trying to take on too much.

Helget said applying for the Paynesville position was a natural step in improving himself by moving to a bigger community.

Before applying, he researched where Paynesville was located and what it had to offer. "I'm an outdoors person and naturally when I consider a move I look at the region. I'll be looking forward to enjoying the lakes and hunting," he said.

Helget said he would plan to join local service organizations. When he worked at Tyler, he was a member of the Kiwanis and Lions Club. In Eagle Lake, he is a member of the Lions and the Jaycees.

The city administrator position has been vacant in Paynesville since April, when the city terminated Dennis Wilde. Wilde had been on a leave of absence due to his health.

Gayla Orbeck, city bookkeeper, and Ron Mergen, public works director, have served as interim co-administrators during Wilde's leaves of absence and during the hiring process.

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