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Platteville city manager leaving
Karen Kurt
Karen Kurt

Platteville City Manager Karen Kurt is resigning after four years for a position with a governmental group in Iowa.

Kurt is leaving in mid-August to become the executive director of the East Central Iowa Council of Governments, a regional planning agency based in Cedar Rapids, according to a city news release.

“This has been a very difficult decision for me, but one that I felt was necessary to put me closer to family,” said Kurt in the news release.

Kurt, who became Platteville’s 11th city manager in July 2015, is replacing Doug Elliott, who retired earlier this year.

City Administration Director Nicola Maurer will serve as acting city manager during the search process.

Common Council president Barb Daus is hoping a search firm will be hired by the end of this month, and a new city manager will be hired by the end of the year.

“Karen Kurt is one of the most outstanding leaders I have worked with in my professional career,” said Daus in the news release. “Leaders inspire and Karen has done just that. She has inspired us — city staff, council members, and our community — to dream big and to work as a team to achieve more than we thought possible. 

“Karen’s quiet and determined style, coupled with her knowledge and amiability, are powerful combinations. She has earned the respect of our local community as well as municipal leaders throughout the state. Knowing that the work she has inspired has made us a stronger community, it is with regret that we accept her resignation and offer our sincere thanks and best wishes.”

Kurt replaced former city manager Larry Bierke after Bierke’s resignation in late 2014.

During Kurt’s four years, the city completed the Library Block project and the construction of the David P. Canny Rountree Branch Trail, and started the Legion Park Event Center project and the conversion of the former Pioneer Ford Sales property into Ruxton Apartments. The city began the first phase of renovation of the Municipal Building this year.

The Library Block project was named the best public–private partnership project by the Wisconsin Economic Development Association in 2017 and the Wisconsin Main Street Program in 2018.

The city made budget changes that resulted in the city’s first long-range financial plan and the Platteville Senior Center moving to the Platteville Public Schools’ O.E. Gray building and becoming Platteville Enrichment Activity and Kinship, with the former Senior Center property at 50 S. Oak St. sold. The city’s Rollo Jamison & Mining Museums also underwent financial changes.

The city received the Distinguished Budget Award from the Government Finance Officers Association in 2017.

“I love walking around town and seeing the new Mineral Street parking lot, the student-designed banners on Main Street and the new park signs,” said Kurt. “Even small changes can have a big impact. It’s very rewarding work.

“Everything at the city is a team effort and I can’t say enough about the caliber of the people I have had the privilege to work with … from the Common Council to city staff to our volunteers. They have all been awesome.”

Kurt was selected out of 34 applicants in 2015 to become the 11th city manager since an April 1970 referendum replaced the mayor position with a council–manager form of government. She previously was assistant city manager in Edina, Minn., and human resources and support services manager for Eden Prairie, Minn.

Platteville’s longest serving city manager was Dave Waffle, who served for 5½ years from 1987 to 1992. City managers LeRoy Schindler and Alan Probst served four years and eight months each.

Platteville’s first acting city manager was Ivar VanAkkeren, the city’s public works director, who served as acting city manager from April to October 1971. VanAkkeren took over after city voters approved replacing the mayor–council form of government with the council–manager form of government in April 1970. The last Platteville mayor was Nolan Gibson, who served one year.