Nick Hernandez’s solid leadership and professional approach has been good for Ark City over the past nine years.
The city manager put in steady oars after some stormy years in local government before he arrived in June of 2011.
A professionally-trained public administrator, Hernandez’s focus on the basics, such as internal operations and utility services, was needed and leaves a solid foundation for the future.
Business-minded, he seemed quick to support using the tools the city has for economic expansion. Major industrial growth at KanPak and Creekstone Farms in recent years have helped strengthen the community’s job base.
Two projects tied directly to Hernandez’s leadership are the new water plant and restructuring debt for South Central Kansas Medical Center to save millions in payments and put the hospital on stronger financial footing.
The expanding hike-bike trail and pending Wilson Park Master Plan improvements are also legacies Hernandez and others can be proud of.
Of course such accomplishments don’t belong to any one man, but also to elected officials, city employees and the community as a whole.
The trust Hernandez was able to build with commissioners served him well, especially in a town with its share (or more) of municipal critics.
His calm demeanor and ability to adjust to on-the-ground realities allowed him to weather difficulties, such as when the city revealed it had spent sales tax funds meant for the hospital.
At the CourierTraveler, we have appreciated Nick’s accessibility and the city’s overall level of transparency during his tenure.
We would liked to have seen more support of community groups and organizations to strengthen our social or civic fabric. And perhaps greater beautification efforts.
But as a city manager after the Great Recession, with all levels of government tightening their belts, Hernandez was not wrong to focus resources on operations and core city services.
So thank you, Nick Hernandez, for your service to Ark City the past nine years. Best of luck in Dodge City.