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Council approves raise for interim city manager

The position of city manager in Okemah continues to be one of fairly common changeover, intrigue and, at times, tension as the municipality’s governing body decides whether or not to continue searching or hire the department head that is currently holding the position in the interim. 

Monday’s regular meeting of the Okemah City Council made for another passing of the decision by the five-person council, leaving no indication or making no comment on whether Water Treatment Plant Supervisor Dustin Danker would be taken out of the interim holds and offered the job full-time or if the council would continue searching.  

If a pay raise is any hint towards how the council thinks Danker is doing, the meeting was telling. 

After voting to enter into executive session, the council asked the interim manager to stick around as the remaining few individuals, save for City Attorney Jack Cadenhead, left the room. 

“Proposed executive session to discuss the employment of the interim city manager pursuant to 25 O.S. Section 307 (B)(1),” the agenda item read. 

It can be the case that executive session get lengthy, especially when discussing a position as important as city manager. However, this was not one of those nights. It was only about at 10- to 15-minute closed-door meeting

Convening, the council took action to acknowledge the return of its members to open session. 

Mayor Mike Fuller issued his executive session statement, telling those in attendance, “Nothing was discussed outside the agenda item (concerning the employment of the interim city manager).” 

Moving under the subsequent agenda item, Councilman Wayne Bacon issued a motion to give Danker a $5,000 per year raise, which was quickly seconded before passing. 

It was made clear to the interim leader of the city that the raise was only valid for as long as he was in the position of interim city manager and would be supplementary to his salary as supervisor of the waste water treatment plant.

Danker said he understood, thanking the council for upping his compensation. Nothing negative was said by any council member, while a few fairly standard words of praise were issued. 

It has been made clear by Danker that he does want the full-time position as Okemah’s city manager, noting, “I am working hard to do the best I can … I don’t know that I can work any harder.”

“I am person that will put myself through anything to get the job done,” Danker added later at his office after mentioning working both days of the weekend in the “freezing cold” because he was needed at the water treatment plant. “I love this city, and I love to work. 

“There is nothing that will stop me from getting the job done if they vote to hire me.” 

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