New administrator speaks at Congressional Forum

Opinion column

by Murrel Bland

One of the first things Cheryl Harrison-Lee plans to do is listen.

That was the message she delivered as the featured speaker at the monthly meeting of the Congressional Forum. About 35 persons attended via Zoom Friday, Feb. 18.

The forum is part of the Kansas City, Kansas, Area Chamber of Commerce.

Harrison-Lee was recently appointed Interim Wyandotte County administrator, succeeding Doug Bach, who resigned. She comes after Tyrone Garner became mayor and chief executive officer of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas. Harrison-Lee will serve until April of 2023; when asked what the future might be after the interim period, she said
she will be taking it one day at a time and will make a determination then.

Harrison-Lee, who is also chairperson of the Kansas Board of Regents, discussed the importance of an educated workforce. Many Wyandotte County businesses continually complain that their top need is having well-qualified employees.

She said it will be important for the public and private sectors to cooperate to help meet that need. Greg Kindle, the president of the Wyandotte County Economic Development Council, told Harrison-Lee that there are about 7,000 job openings in Wyandotte County.

Harrison-Lee said it will be important to establish short-term and long-term goals after her listening tour. These goals will be established after a strategic plan determines community needs.

Before coming to Wyandotte County, Harrison-Lee was executive director of the Kansas Office of Recovery; she administered and distributed federal funds of $1.034 billion statewide to those impacted by Covid-19. Gov. Laura Kelly appointed Harrison-Lee to the position.

From 2012 until 2018, Harrison-Lee was city administrator for the city of Gardner in Johnson County. She resigned from that post and received $350,000 in severance pay.

Much of Harrison-Lee’s professional life was spent in the central Florida area. She worked in management for cities including Orlando, Daytona Beach, Osmond Beach and Titusville. One of her more significant accomplishments was developing a plan for the reuse of Orlando Naval Training Center.

Harrison-Lee has an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of South Carolina and a graduate degree from the University of Florida.

She has one son.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and Piper Press. He is an advisory director to Business West.

BPU, UG offices to be closed Friday, Dec. 24

The administrative offices of the Kansas City, Kansas, Board of Public Utilities will be closed on Friday, Dec. 24, and also on Friday, Dec. 31, according to a spokesman.

Although BPU’s business offices are closed on holidays, emergency service is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

For power emergencies, customers may call 913-573-9522.

The water emergency number is 913-573-9622 from 8 a.m. to midnight on weekdays, and 913-573-9522 from midnight to 8 a.m., and during weekends and holidays.

Unified Government offices also will be closed on Friday, Dec. 24, and Friday, Dec. 31, for the holidays, according to the UG website.

UG plans volunteer appreciation event Friday

The Unified Government will hold a Volunteer Appreciation event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Dec, 10, at Memorial Hall, 600 N. 7th St.

The event recognizes the contributions made by the hundreds of volunteers who work across many various departments and agencies within the Wyandotte County – Kansas City, Kansas, Unified Government.