(MANHATTAN, KS – November 28, 2023) — After more than two decades of dedicated service to the City of Manhattan, Ron R. Fehr, Manhattan’s eighth City Manager, has announced his retirement effective in mid-April 2024, marking 24 years as City Manager and more than 42 years with the City.
“If you would have forecasted that I would spend my entire professional career with the City of Manhattan, I would have chuckled and said, ‘Not likely.’ However, Manhattan really grew on me and ultimately my family also,” Fehr said, adding, “The Little Apple is a great place, and it has been an honor to serve this community and the City of Manhattan organization all these years as we look forward to our next chapter.”
Fehr’s retirement marks the end of an era in Manhattan, as he has played a pivotal role in shaping the City’s growth and development since his appointment on April 17, 2000.
“Ron Fehr has been an invaluable asset to our community,” said Mayor Mark Hatesohl. “His leadership, vision, and commitment to public service have left an indelible mark on Manhattan.”
Fehr began his career with the City of Manhattan in January 1982 in the newly formed Parks and Recreation Department as the Forestry and Parks Supervisor. While in Parks and Recreation, he served as a Park Superintendent and six years as Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation while achieving his master’s degree in public administration (MPA) from Kansas State University in December 1990.
He was promoted to the position of Assistant City Manager in December 1992.
Throughout his tenure, Fehr served in various capacities, including as Acting Zoo Director, Acting Director of Human Resources, and Acting Director of Utilities (twice).
Fehr’s dedication and leadership were evident when he assumed the role of Acting City Manager in 1995 and again just before his permanent appointment in April 2000.
His ability to navigate complex challenges and provide steady guidance has been instrumental in the City’s economic and cultural growth through a multitude of challenges, including numerous flooding events, a pair of destructive tornadoes, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
In recognition of his outstanding contributions to public management, Fehr was honored with the prestigious Buford M. Watson Jr. Award for Excellence in Public Management in 2014. This award, the highest offered by the Kansas Association of City/County Management, underscored his commitment to excellence and innovation in public service.
Fehr’s involvement in Leadership Kansas and the Flint Hills Regional Leadership Program, for which he currently serves on the Board of Trustees, highlight his commitment to professional development and community engagement.
“I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in serving as City Manager for Manhattan and to be surrounded by exceptional leadership teams, a talented and caring workforce, thoughtful elected officials, and intergovernmental partners, with motivated community and business leaders working together to make Manhattan and the Flint Hills region a better place to live, learn, work, and play,” Fehr said.
Upon its reorganization in January 2024, the City Commission will be tasked with conducting a search for a new permanent City Manager to build upon Fehr’s leadership and continue the City’s trajectory of success.
On January 2, following the recent November election, new city commissioners Susan Adamchak, Karen McCulloh, and Peter Oppelt; returning Commissioner John Matta; and current Mayor Pro Tem Wynn Butler will work with Fehr and City administration to consider the process to select his replacement.