Archive for Sunday, September 20, 1998

DIRECTIVES

September 20, 1998

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The county administrator says he does what county commissioners ask of him.

When Douglas County commissioners need more information about a matter they are reviewing, they turn to Craig Weinaug.

As administrator, Weinaug keeps a hand in the day-to-day operations of county government. He works closely with department heads and advises the commission about decisions and policies.

He also serves at their discretion.

``I work at their pleasure,'' Weinaug said from his second-floor office at the courthouse, 11th and Massachusetts. ``That means I have to keep them happy.''

Weinaug assists the three-member commission, which meets twice weekly, on Monday mornings and Wednesday evenings. He arranges meetings between department heads and the commissioners and serves as a general liaison with the county's staff and the public.

He has been county administrator since 1992. Before coming to Lawrence, he served as city manager of Ardmore, Okla., from 1984 to 1992. He was the first city manager of Zion, Ill., from 1980 to 1983 and left that position after a campaign promise eliminated the job. He also was the first city administrator of Scott City from 1977 to 1980, and started his career as assistant to the city manager of Wichita Falls, Tex., from 1975 to 1977.

That several of the county's department heads are elected officials makes Weinaug's job ``a little more interesting'' from time to time, he said. Those employees are responsible to the voters who elected them, not to Weinaug per se.

See Officials, page 9

Continued from page 8

Weinaug makes the final hiring and firing decisions for most county employees and also prepares the county's budget. It is his job to enforce personnel and purchasing policies, and he says he is the ``chief coordinator of the way policy issues are presented to the commission.''

But he mostly describes his job as ``anything the county commissioners ask me to do.''

Other key faces at the courthouse:

  • Treasurer Pat Wells, a Democrat who was elected in 1996 and took over that post in October 1997. Treasurers do not take office until 11 months after an election so the outgoing officials can close out the county's books for the state's fiscal year.

The treasurer's office is in the courthouse, but it also has a satellite station at Dillons, 3000 W. Sixth. The treasurer is in charge of collecting property taxes and handling county funds. Wells' office also registers and licenses vehicles, boats, trailers and mobile homes.

  • Clerk Patty Jaimes, a Republican, has been with the county since 1980 and is the top election official. She supervises voter registration, election operations and ballot counting. Jaimes also is in charge of the county's payroll, its personnel and real estate records, as well as fish and game licensing.
  • Register of Deeds Sue Neustifter started in that job in 1972 after serving as clerk and deputy register of deeds. A Democrat, she is responsible for recording and preserving all required county records, books, deeds, mortgages, plats and other real estate documents.
  • Sheriff Loren Anderson was re-elected to a second term in 1992. A Republican, he joined the department as a deputy in 1965, was promoted to lieutenant in 1976 and was named undersheriff in 1985.

The county employees about 320 people.

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is dgruver@ljworld.com.

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