Willmar City Administrator Holland says family tragedy led to earlier-than-planned resignation

WILLMAR -- After two years as the Willmar City Administrator, Ike Holland has announced his resignation. Holland said he expects his last day on the job will be June 18, approximately 90 days from now.


WILLMAR - After two years as the Willmar City Administrator, Ike Holland has announced his resignation. Holland said he expects his last day on the job will be June 18, approximately 90 days from now.

While Holland originally expected he would stay in Willmar for several years, a family tragedy changed those plans. His son Zachary died in September.

"My son passing kind of drove the train, that perhaps we should move up our timeline and move back to Colorado," Holland said.

Holland said he and his wife, Leslie, had planned on moving back to Colorado when they retired, to be closer to family and friends.

"We raised our family in Colorado," Holland said.


Holland said his two years in Willmar have flown by and he is proud of what he has achieved.

The top project in Holland's opinion was being a part of the merger of the city-owned Rice Memorial Hospital into the CentraCare Health system of St. Cloud. Affiliated Community Medical Centers and Rice Memorial Hospital merged into the new Carris Health subsidiary of CentraCare. Holland said he was glad he was able to share his experiences with such mergers, having been involved in two others during his local government career.

"That transaction was very important," Holland said. "That is probably a $100 million deal, the single largest transaction in the history of the town."

The dissolution last year of the Willmar Community Education and Recreation partnership with the Willmar School District created an opportunity for the city to recreate its own Parks and Recreation Department.

"It went off with really without a hitch. In a lot of areas it has improved. Participation rates are up," Holland said. "I am really proud of the staff and the people that contributed to that, and my role in that transition."

Holland is also proud of the work the city has put into many recreation projects from Robbins Island to the splash pad at Rice Park and continued improvements at the Willmar Civic Center.

"The Civic Center we have put in almost $3 million since I've been here," Holland said. "I am so happy for that facility, that it is being upgraded."

The one project Holland wishes he would still be here to see completed is a new city hall. He believes such a project would have a huge impact on the staff and the community.


"It can really make a difference, even in the attitude of the employees, the attitude of the community. It is amazing what a building can do," Holland said. "I think they are going to be very happy with the outcome. Hopefully in the next 18 months, they will be cutting the ribbon on a new city hall."

Though his time in Willmar has been short, Holland has enjoyed it. With his daughter transferring to Minnesota State University-Mankato, the family will continue to have connections in the region.

"We've made some lifelong friends here. They won't just go away," Holland said. "We will have friends here in this community forever, that is a nice thing."

Holland, age 59, said he isn't retiring. He has nearly 20 years of local government service and 20 years in the military and he isn't ready to hang it all up. Holland said he plans to find something to fill his time.

"I've always had an interest to work for the church, maybe a nonprofit," Holland said. "I'll administer over something I'm sure, but probably not city government."

For the city of Willmar, it will soon have to begin the process of finding a new administrator. While no conversations have yet been held on how to go about that, Holland recommends the city again use a recruiter, as has been done in the past, to ensure finding the most qualified candidates.

"I think a national search is warranted," Holland said.

Though he is leaving Willmar, Holland is certain the future is bright for the city. The diverse economy will lend itself to many great opportunities.


"There is so much potential still going forward," Holland said. "I really like Willmar."

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email or direct 320-214-4373.

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