Morgan Retires from Kalona10/8/2009
Morgan dedicated to serving his community
By: Ronald Slechta Kalona Area News
Douglas Morgan turns over keys of Kalona to incoming City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh. Mayor Jerry Kauffman and city employees presented retired City Administrator Doug Morgan this special clock from Schlabaugh & Sons.
Due to health issues that drained his energy, Douglas "Doug" Morgan, 63, reluctantly turned over the keys of the city over to new Kalona City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh, 38.
Morgan began his duties as the first city administrator in June of 1994, drawing on his knowledge of city government from serving eight years, 1980 to 1988, as a Kalona City Council member. He also drew on many years of administrative experience he gained in the chemical and fertilizer business.
A native of Ohio, Morgan is a graduate of Ohio State University (and is still a Buckeye fan). He notes he roots for the Hawkeyes, except when they are playing his Buckeyes.
Morgan and his family moved to Kalona in 1977 as a manager of a farm chemical firm. He decided not to seek another term on the council when he was promoted to an area manager, which required a lot of travel throughout southeast Iowa.
After a series of mergers involving Land O' Lakes and Cenex, Morgan faced the possibility of relocating to another state at the same time Kalona had decided to hire a city administrator.
How did the council members and mayor view Morgan's work?
Mayor Jerry Kauffman pointed out that when Morgan was hired, he was the first person to hold the position of City Administrator. "He served the City's needs 12-13 yrs, until some of the work needed to be divided," Kauffman said. "The Council then hired a building inspector Jim Pope and later the Council and Doug hired Mike Bowlin as a working supervisor to handle the 'outside' workers."
This relieved his position so that he could concentrate on other duties the Council and public directed to him. Some of the MANY projects ongoing are the 'downtown revitalization', revising subdivision regulations, a study of the decaying, original sewer system, replacing the bridge on A Ave and many more." Kaufman added.
"If I had time, I'm sure we could write a book with many pages," Mayor Kauffman said. "I have enjoyed working with Doug, He has always handled the position well, never complaining. Doug has an excellent working relationship and respect from all that know and have worked with him. He will be missed by all. Doug is not leaving town, only the position."
"I have appreciated Doug's commitment to the community," said councilman Steve Lafaurie. He "has managed the City in a very professional manner and has been instrumental in ensuring that our utility infrastructure has continued to improve. His years of experience will be missed."
"We've really enjoyed living in Kalona and working with the people of this community," Morgan said. "This is our hometown now and we want to continue to live here."
"I can't think of any place where I would have enjoyed working more," Morgan said. "I enjoyed working with the people of Kalona. I have good council members. For the most part, everyone has been very congenial and pretty forward looking."
Morgan noted his health issues were forcing him to take too much time off. "It was time for some one with more energy to take over," Morgan said, noting his health issues drain his energy.
"I just hope I have the energy to complete the sizable 'honey do' list my wife (Barb) has for me."
What advice does he have for his replacement?
"When I started (as city administrator) I didn't look at people's concerns as complaints," he remarked. "When people come in with issues, take their issues as concerns. You need to listen a lot to your citizens. You don't need to do everything they want, but you do need to listen."
"I've seen a lot of change, especially in the amount of paperwork," Morgan said. "The amount of paper work necessary to keep up with state reports and mandates has really escalated."
Morgan notes Kalona is fortunate to be a growing community. "Since 1994, we have had seven new subdivisions (Harvest Hill I and II, Kreekside, Sunrise Creek, Walnut Ridge, Key Estates and Hillcrest Estates) creating 183 lots and 180 new homes. And the population of Kalona has grown by over 750 people.
Morgan noted the city completed an addition to the water treatment plant in 1998 and added a second main filter to increase the capacity of water filtering in the treatment plant.
"We also put up a new water tower increasing our water capacity from 250,000 to 500,000 gallons in 2003," Morgan said. "That increased the water pressure on the north part of the city." He noted that the city now pumps 230,000 to 300,000 gallons a day.
Other accomplishments for the city during Morgan's tenure include:
*Installing radio read water meters and going from quarterly to monthly utility billing. A city employee uses a hand held reader from the street.
*The city comprehensive plan was updated in 2008. The previous one was done in 1987. That plan is used as a footprint for the current downtown revitalization project.
*Numerous streets have been paved. "As you drive through Kalona, our streets are as good as any town of our size," Morgan noted.
*In 2006, the city sewage lagoons underwent major renovating and updating. The lagoons were dredged and additional piping was installed, decreasing the time it takes to discharge the lagoons (which has to be done twice a year).
*The 6th Street Lift Station has just been completed. This gives the city greater sanitary sewer capacity and hopefully will prevent any sewage backups.
*Last year the city adopted a Building Code and hired a building inspector. "We were able to adopt the building code and related codes adopted ahead of state regulations to put Kalona in a better position to control things better in our own locality," Morgan said.
*The city Planning & Zoning Commission is in process of updating the subdivision and the zoning ordinances.
*A new shower house has been built at City Park, resulting in an increased use of the City Campgrounds. The campgrounds have been full most of the summer.
*A new, larger Kalona Public Library was constructed five years ago. "This is a nice amenity to our town," Morgan noted.
"I have fairly mixed emotions about leaving a number of things not finished," Morgan said.
*He noted the city worked hard on electrical municipalization, but that decision is still awaiting a decision by an appeal judge who has said a decision won't be handed down until after the first of the year. After the Iowa Utilities Board denied the city's petition to purchase the electrical system from Alliant, the Iowa Municipal Utilities Association appealed the decision on behalf of Kalona and four other cities.
*Morgan said he would have liked to get something done with the Rec Center/City Hall, gaining some more office space. The town is growing and needs more city office space, "so on, so forth."
*Morgan said he backs the Downtown Revitalization project and hopes something gets done to make the downtown nicer and more usable.
*Infiltration in the old sanitary sewer mains is a serious problem. "We should have been on this a few years ago as it is a serious problem in the older part of town," Morgan noted.
"I hope the city can continue to have new housing starts and more commercial and industrial growth," he said. "We need this to continue to increase our tax base."
He noted Kalona is fortunate to have a good school system as it helps to attract families to the community.
Morgan noted Kalona has not seen a decline in housing that many communities have. "We have had eight new housing starts already this year and a number of housing and commercial improvements," he said.
"Kalona needs to start looking at improving or replacing the swimming pool which is now 21 years old and needs a lot of work," he said. "We need a larger pool, water slides like a water park such as many communities have around us."
"We also need to expand our campgrounds with more spaces with 50 amp electric service," he added.