The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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March 11, 2014

Former Joplin city manager says Texas hiring ‘bittersweet’

JOPLIN, Mo. — Mark Rohr had mixed feelings Tuesday night when the City Council of League City, Texas, approved a final contract naming him as city manager.

“It is a bittersweet moment for me,” Rohr said by telephone. “I’m looking forward to my new duties and challenges in League City, but I’m sad to be leaving the citizens of Joplin and the incredible support they have demonstrated for me in my years at the city.”

Rohr was fired last month as Joplin city manager after nine years on the job.

City officials in League City could not be reached Tuesday night to discuss Rohr’s salary and terms of employment. Rohr declined to disclose those terms, saying he had agreed to allow city officials there to announce that information.

Krista Wyatt, director of communications for League City, confirmed that the council completed Rohr’s contract but did not provide any of those details Tuesday night.

Asked what interested him in the League City job, Rohr said, “One of the things that appealed to me is that only about half of the city is built out.”

The population there is about 90,000 to 95,000, “but about half the city is undeveloped, and that presents some challenges and some opportunities, and I am looking forward to that,” Rohr said. He estimated that the population could grow to 175,000 or 200,000 when the city is fully developed.

Asked if he is concerned that League City has had three city managers in the past three years, Rohr said: “No. When I was down there and spoke to them, I heard extensive discussions about why that was the case. In the past, they tended to hire people who did not have city manager experience, and they intended to do something different this time.”

Rohr was fired without cause Feb. 4 by a 5-4 vote of the Joplin City Council.

The action followed an investigation that was to have focused primarily on two City Council members.

His firing, the conclusions reached by the private investigator and the cost of the probe have created public controversy that is being discussed by residents and candidates in the April 8 election for council seats.

Nine pages of the final report of that investigation by Osage Beach attorney Tom Loraine have been withheld from the public. A Jasper County judge on March 31 will hold a hearing on a request for a writ by The Joplin Globe, which is seeking public disclosure of the full report, its exhibits and testimony.

Rohr had won national recognition for his part in guiding the city through the aftermath of the 2011 tornado, and the start of its recovery and redevelopment.

“I’ll always have an interest in Joplin and how Joplin is doing,” he said Tuesday night. “I’m not going to write the experience off entirely.”

First day

MARK ROHR, who was hired in Texas three weeks after he was fired in Joplin, said his first day on the new job will be March 31.

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