Danker resigns as city manager
By Ken Childers
Okemah City Manager has tendered his resignation after less than two years on the job.
In a regular meeting of the Okemah City Council held Monday, June 8, Danker told the council that he was leaving at the end of this month.
“I’m not going to be renewing my contract this year. I have an opportunity to pursue and my last day will be June 30, which is the last day of my contract,” Danker said. “I’ve been with the City of Okemah for 14 years total, and it’s bittersweet.”
Danker, a native of El Reno, was a water plant supervisor before he became city manager. He was hired on an interim basis in September 2018 following the termination of Bert Robison and in March 2019 the city council voted to hire him full-time.
“I for one want to go on record and state it’s been a pleasure to work with you,” Mayor Mike Fuller told Danker. “I’ve been through four city managers in 10 years and I was hoping this was going to be the last one. But you’ve got an opportunity to better yourself and be a better provider for your family, and you’d be foolish to not pursue it. That said, I wish you all the best. It’s been a pleasure working with you. I’ve seen more from you than I have in the previous three,” Fuller said.
Danker was quick to acknowledge the staff at city hall for the progress that has been made during his tenure as city manager. “We’ve had a lot of steam going and I don’t think this is going to slow it down much. It’s the people who work here who do this, it’s not the city manager. The city manager makes decisions and supports the staff. The staff you have…you couldn’t put together a better group of people.”
Danker said he planned on staying in Okemah and would be available to help the city however he could. “The city has been great to me and I’m here to help if there’s ever anything I can do. I’m going to continue to live here and someday be buried in Highland Cemetery,” he said.
According to Fuller, a special meeting will be held, possibly on Thursday, June 11, to discuss appointing Jim Copeland as interim city manager. Copeland, who currently serves as emergency management director, has held the interim city manager post on more than one occasion.
Prior to Danker’s announcement, the council approved a resolution to adopt the city budget for fiscal year 2020-2021. A public hearing on the budget preceded the regular council meeting, and no public appearances were made. An overview of the new budget was published in the June 4 edition of ONL.
The council also authorized Danker to solicit bids for the service and maintenance of the city’s heat and air systems. An agenda item, to approve an agreement for fiscal year 2020-2021 auditing services, was tabled until the next meeting. The city currently uses the firm of Finley and Cook, but the council recently instructed to Danker to “shop around” for another firm. Finley and Cook’s fee is typically $22,500.
The meeting came to a close with comments from council members. Ward One councilman Ronnie Lucas said he had been approached by local businessman Carl Alls, who had been in contact with a promotions company that was interested in bringing a carnival to Okemah in July or August. According to Alls, the company needed an answer within 24 hours. No action was taken and the idea was essentially shot down, with all council members saying they felt, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, July or August would be too early for a carnival.
The next regular council meeting is slated for Monday, June 22 beginning at 6 p.m. at city hall. All council meetings are open to the public.