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Willmar city administrator pleased with tenure so far

Tribune file photo Willmar City Administrator Ike Holland, shown in a file photo, says he is pleased with his progress and the city's during his first six months on the job. The Willmar City Council earlier this month reviewed his performance and scored Holland high in community relations, leadership and supervision, while saying he has shown high levels of honesty and integrity.

WILLMAR — After over six months on the job as Willmar's city administrator, Ike Holland is pleased with the progress he and the city have made.

"It has been successful for me. I've been very busy," Holland said, noting projects such as the Destination Playground at Robbins Island, the ongoing updates at Rice Park, street improvements and projects at the Civic Center.

The Willmar City Council seems to have agreed with Holland's assessment, as members gave Holland a positive six-month review and approved a 3 percent raise.

"Mr. Holland is meeting or exceeding expectation in all aspects of his duties," said Councilor Shawn Mueske, speaking during the Nov. 6 council meeting.

Holland received his six-month review in a closed session of the council during the Oct. 16 meeting. Mueske publicly presented the review conclusions Nov. 6.

While overall the past six months have gone well, Holland said he knew coming into Willmar that the city administration had been unstable for some time and that city staff would need some time to get use to him.

"You feel the tenderness of that," Holland said.

Recently, the affiliation agreement between Rice Memorial Hospital and Carris Health has caused other issues to be pushed to the back burner, such as creating a more efficient way to run the City Council meetings.

"That added to the workload. It is why we are backed up on our council agenda and action," Holland said.

With the hospital agreement wrapped up, Holland hopes to turn his attention to other things.

"In 2018 we will get more work done," Holland said, including continuing discussion about a new city hall and community center. "That is going to be a lot of my time in 2018."

Also, Holland hopes to continue planning for projects at Robbins Island and other city parks, along with working on the aesthetics of Willmar. This could mean cleaning and painting the streetlights and traffic signals at intersections and making the city welcome signs more eye popping by adding additional landscaping.

"We have everything and more. We just need a little lipstick and makeup," Holland said.

Holland's performance was evaluated by the council on several measures, which were rated on a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being unsatisfactory and 5 being exceeds expectations.

"Mr. Holland demonstrated high levels of honesty and integrity in the performance of his duties over the six months with the city," Mueske said.

Holland scored the highest on community relations, leadership and supervision.

"You came into a difficult time in our city. You have helped us through some bumps," Mayor Marv Calvin said. "I'm pleased with your leadership, pleased with your openness and your willingness to meet with myself. I believe Mr. Holland is doing a very nice job for us."

Holland said there are more challenges facing Willmar, but he believes the city can get through them.

"We're still going to be going through some transitions and growing pains, but that is OK. We will keep moving forward," Holland said.