After 31 years working for the City of Winfield, assistant to the city manager Gary Mangus will retire on Dec. 11.
Mangus began working for the city in February 1989, helping set up a central purchasing department under then-city manager Rick Cotton. Mangus was purchasing coordinator for two years, before becoming assistant to the city manager in 1991. He has held that position under four city managers (eight including interim managers). Prior to being hired here, Mangus worked at a natural gas company in western Kansas. He has a degree in business administration from Kansas State University.
As assistant to the city manager, some of Mangus’ areas of responsibility have included fleet services, purchasing, the Department of Corrections partnership that employed Winfield Correctional Facility inmates, the Quail Ridge development, facilities, contract administration, outdoor community events, the Winfield Fairgrounds, interim Parks and Public Lands director and more.
“I’m kind of a behind the scenes guy,” Mangus said of his job. “It’s been a lot of fun, and great things have been accomplished due to the dedication of city managers and commissioners.”
Mangus said he is most proud of his work on the Quail Ridge development and its impact on the community. The development, originally tracts of farmland off of U.S. 77 south of Winfield, began with a golf course, restaurant and hotel in the early 1990s and has expanded to include a medical office, housing and a second hotel nearby. The development helped with a pent-up demand for housing, Mangus said, something that continues to be an issue today.
Mangus also reflected on some misfortunes that have happened in Winfield and what came out of them. A major ice storm in the early 2000s resulted in large parts of the city’s electrical system being repaired or replaced. When the Winfield State Hospital closed down (Mangus served on a task force that examined the issue in the mid-1990s), the Kansas Department of Corrections was able to come in and repurpose the buildings as a state correctional facility, which brought jobs to the area and ensured the buildings would not sit empty.
Mangus said the available technology has been among the biggest changes since he started with the city in 1989. At that time, all employees on the south end of the second floor of the city building shared one computer and printer, which was kept on a wheeled cart and rolled to whoever needed to use it.
One thing that hasn’t change, though, is city employees’ commitment to the community. Mangus said he sees this commitment every day, especially in the face of events such as storms and power outages.
“All of us are pulling in the same direction, from the city manager to the front line workers,” he said.
Mangus said he had looked into a few city management jobs in smaller communities during the course of his career, but decided to stay with his current position because he likes being behind the scenes, and because Winfield is home.
Mangus said he and his wife, Becky, who is retired from Southwestern College, plan to keep living in Winfield. They were hoping to spend more time with their daughters and their families, who live in Texas and Tennessee, once he was retired. However, COVID-19 has made this impractical for now, he said.
When asked about the most important thing he has learned, Mangus said it is how to sit down with anyone, whether a customer, contractor or someone else, and have a conversation that is mutually beneficial.
“One pothole may not be the biggest thing on the agenda, but it is the biggest thing to them,” he said of these conversations.
The best thing about the job has been to day-to-day interaction with staff and customers.
“We have a great staff and a lot of good people here,” he said of Winfield.