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Economic panel chooses reluctant chairman

Staff writer

The countywide economic development corporation appointed a new board chairman Tuesday, but not without confronting the renegade behavior of member Mike Beneke.

When former Hillsboro economic development director Clint Seibel was asked if he would take over the chairman position from outgoing chairman Amy Doane, who has taken a job in Smith Center, he expressed reservations.

Seibel called out one board member by name. Board treasurer Mike Beneke has been the subject of public criticism by county commissioner Dianne Novak for arranging a meeting with a potential executive director and inviting a group including county commissioners Randy Dallke and Kent Becker, but not Novak.

“I understand when things aren’t moving fast enough, Mike would put it on the table and make it move,” Seibel said. “I would not be part of that and I don’t want to do it.

“I guess what I want is a commitment that members of the board don’t speak for the group.”

“They listen to me better than they listen to you,” Beneke said.

Doane said everyone has their own opinion about what happens in board meetings and they go out and talk to people about what the group is doing.

“I wouldn’t want to take the chair of this group today,” Doane said.

Doane said there are “a lot of individual agendas” that might get in the way.

“That has caused us much conflict in the past,” Doane said.

Seibel said he didn’t want to the group to not have leadership, and behavior of some board members have caused misunderstandings among the public that a chairman would have to address.

“I just don’t know if I have the patience and desire to go dance with all the peripherals,” Seibel said. “The chairman is the spokesman, and I just don’t have time for that.”

Seibel said he’d like to be vice-chairman to now-vice-chairman Merlin Entz.

“I’m going to be active on this committee but I don’t want to step out,” Seibel said.

Board member Hannah Bourbon agreed that the issue of board behavior needs to be addressed.

Seibel said he’d serve as chairman if there is board consensus on the matter.

“So you’ll agree to the rest of (Doane’s) term?” Bourbon asked.

“I agree until I resign,” Seibel said.

Board members voted unanimously to elect Seibel chairman.

“I made this little hullabaloo because it was an elephant on the table,” Seibel said.

In other matters, the board interviewed a potential executive director during a half-hour executive session; reviewed the strategic plan as it exists now; agreed to have an annual audit by an outside accountant; updated each other on the status of last month’s action plan; approved purchasing accounting software; and agreed to have a booth at the county fair.

Last modified May 24, 2018

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