Saturday, February 24, 2018

Joe PurcellFormer Hardin Mayor Jack Lane shows a key to the city he was given at his retirement party in the Public Utility Facility on Dec. 28.

‘Ahead of the change and ahead of the game’

Joe Purcell learns the ropes as Hardin’s new mayor
A new Hardin mayor who ran on a platform of fresh ideas and “cohesive teamwork” between the city and its residents has taken the reins of local government as of Jan. 1. So far, according to Mayor Joe Purcell, he hasn’t contended with anything unexpected.
 
“My goal is to keep us proactive, ahead of the change and ahead of the game,” he said, “and keep us going forward in a positive manner.”
 
He led his first Hardin City Council meeting on Jan. 2, where aldermen and he discussed Big Horn County Memorial Hospital’s plans to construct a physical therapy and community wellness center over the ice skating rink in South Park. At present, the project has been put on hold until the hospital irons out the specifics.
 
His biggest challenge in the coming months, he continued, will be to balance mayoral duties with his full-time job as director of nursing for long-term care at Heritage Acres Nursing Home. 
 
To keep on top of city commitments, he has stopped into Hardin’s City Hall each work day since he started as mayor. Regular office hours, he continued, should be posted by the end of January.
 
“I did see where it could be as big or little of a job, time commitment-wise, as a person wants it,” he said. 
 
Purcell also plans to make sure Hardin’s government maintains a high level of professionalism, and meets “the needs of and [listens] to the people of our city.” He is searching for capital improvement grants to update equipment for city workers, as “a lot of it is starting to get aged.” 
 
“We are very impressed with the quality of people we have in our city,” Purcell said of the Hardin crews, who have kept the streets open and water pipes from freezing. “These guys have stepped up, and done a wonderful job keeping the city going and keeping things on track.”
 
In the immediate future, he intends to find someone to fill the position for superintendent of public works, which recently was vacated by Russell Dill. Several people have applied, he continued.
 
During a Dec. 28 retirement party, former Mayor Jack Lane expressed full support for Purcell, who he said would be an effective addition to Hardin government. 
 
“He’s young, he’s smart, he’s professional. He understands budgeting, time management, personnel,” Lane said. “I think he’ll be a good mayor. I think he’ll be just what the city needs.”
 
In the years Lane was mayor, he continued, he learned the importance of communicating information properly both to the media and the public. 
 
Many of the problems in his earlier years, he said, occurred “because I didn’t explain to people what was going on.” Once this problem was resolved, according to Lane, city council meetings became “issue-oriented” and “a much more constructive process.”
 
“It was pretty exciting. I learned a lot,” he said of the experience. “Nobody shot at me.”
 
To reach City Hall, located at 406 N. Cheyenne Ave., call (406) 665-9292.
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