City news

A former interim Abilene city manager said he would serve as an advisor if the Abilene City Commission named a current employee as an interim city manager.

Dennis Kissinger, who served eight months in Abilene between city managers Allen Dinkel and David Dillner in 2010, said at a Monday study session he would contract as a consultant on a half to daily basis offering advice a couple days a week.

Kissinger said he has 30 years experience in city government, 17 as the city manager of Salina, but wasn’t interested in a full-time interim position.

Currently he said he volunteers as a senior advisor with City/County Management in Kansas.

“I have kept up with Abilene. I really care about your success,” he said. “I don’t think there is anything in Abilene I haven’t dealt with.”

The commission terminated City Manager Austin Gilley in early May of this year. City Clerk Penny Soukup and Finance Director Marcus Rothchild are currently acting as co-acting city managers.

However, selection of an interim within staff presents a time issue as those staff members have current job responsibilities.

Kissinger said it could be next spring before a city manager is selected.


“It can get complicated and awkward when there is an election,” he said. “You are going to have to make some choices.”

In November voters will select at least one new city commissioner as Sharon Pettersen did not opt to seek reelection. Incumbents Mayor Tim Shafer and Dee Marshall, a former mayor, are being challenged by Phil Hamilton, Brandon Rein and William Hane. The top two elected will receive four-year terms starting in January and the third vote getter will be elected to a two-year term.

The Abilene City Commission ran into a similar election situation when it selected Gilley as city manager, a position he rejected until after the 2017 November election.

“You could move on a fast track or you could be out for a long time, maybe until in the spring,” Kissinger said of the selection.

“I would rather lose an election than rush the process,” Marshall said.

With his position with the City/County Management of Kansas, Kissinger said there were not a lot of interim city managers available at this time.

“I have not found anyone but that doesn’t mean you can’t find anyone,” he said. “A lot of cities select an interim within but other cities don’t have someone to take on that role.”


By consensus the four commissioners (Petersen was absent) agreed to look into a code for excessive debris.

Marshall said Abilene doesn’t have a code and homeowners are blowing grass into the streets. The grass then clogs up the storm drains.

Lon Schrader, director of Public Works, said there is a greater problem in the fall.

“Leaves and grass decompose and become more like soil,” he said. “It does cause problems.”

Beer at the fair

Central Kansas Free Fair Board President Allison Forsyth said the board was seeking a cereal malt beverage license from July 25 to Aug. 5 to serve alcohol in the area of the east bleachers similar to past years.

Forsyth said there are board members than would like to see alcohol served throughout the grandstand and not just the east side.

Commissioner Chris Ostermann said she had heard from parents that want to keep the entertainment at the grandstand “a family event.”

Contact Tim Horan at

Contact Tim Horan at

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