Cologne makes selection on new city administrator

John Hendel is the new city administrator for the city of Cologne. (Patriot photo by Todd Moen)
John Hendel is the new city administrator for the city of Cologne. (Patriot photo by Todd Moen)

When it comes to selecting a new city administrator, the third time apparently is the charm for the city of Cologne.
At the Cologne City Council meeting on Monday, April 15, the council voted 4-0 (Councilor Jill Skaaland was absent) to approve John Hendel as its next city administrator. Cologne has been without a city administrator since October 2012. Hendel was the third finalist to be named to the position in recent months.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” said Hendel, whose hiring is contingent on a satisfactory result of a drug screening test that was administered on April 15. “I’m very much looking forward to what the position has to offer and how I can continue to help our great town succeed.”
Hendel’s contract is for two years with an annual salary of $68,000 with three weeks vacation. His start date will be Monday, April 29. Hendel emerged as the top choice for the position following a special council meeting held by the Cologne City Council to discuss potential candidates for the position on Monday, April 8.
“His drive and passion for Cologne were big factors for me,” said Mayor Matt Lein, who indicated relief that the search was over before noting that Hendel was considered to be one of the top candidates from the last round of applicants. “He has lots of private experience and he was the best fit.”
“He was the best out of all the candidates,” Councilor Scott Williams said. “He ranked right up there and we went with it.”
Hendel has lived in Cologne for the past 18 years and is known for his involvement in the community, which includes about 13 years of service on the Cologne Fire Department and other activities and town functions. Hendel spearheaded the effort behind the Firehouse Drive In, a popular event held every summer in Cologne.
“I think it will be a good thing to have a local guy (in the position),” said Lein, who indicated that Hendel would remain on the fire department.
Hendel is currently employed as the Sales & Marketing Manager at Mid-County Coop in Cologne.
His work experience includes employment at VerticalXchange, LLC as the Managing Director — Ag Division, Event Manager, and Conference Director, and at Cygnus Business Media (Champion Farm Shows) as a Group Show Director, Marketing Manager – Trade Shows, and Exhibit Sales.
He has a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Minnesota State University Mankato.
Hendel acknowledged the challenge involved with stepping into the role of city administrator.
“Running a city is much like running a business,” he said. “They have a lot of similarities. I understand they have their differences. That’s going to be my great task, to take my knowledge of business and use it to run a city.”
Also during the meeting:
• Approximately one dozen citizens were present to voice concerns regarding recent housing construction in the Winkler Crossing development. Apparently, seven of the last nine homes that have been constructed are of the same model in locations that violate a covenant that governs the development. Among the concerns of the citizens is that the like houses could end up damaging property values in the neighborhood.
Lein stated that covenants aren’t typically enforced by the city but he would talk to the city attorney to see if there was some way the city could intervene to help address the citizens’ concerns.
• Recycling Day will be held at the Cologne Public Works building from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 4. For more information on Recycling Day, see the city website or the next issue of Cologne Connections.
• The council will meet again at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 6.

Contact Todd Moen at [email protected]