SHADY COVE — City officials here say vacancies for mayor and city administrator positions will offer a chance to move forward after a tough few years.
The City Council voted unanimously Aug. 22 to support a separation agreement with City Administrator Danise Brakeman, while Mayor Ron Holthusen, who recently announced his resignation date for as early as October, will move to Jacksonville.
SHADY COVE — After suffering a stroke four weeks ago, Shady Cove City Councilor Bill Kyle has resigned, citing doctor's orders to relieve stress.
Kyle, 81, entering his 12th year as a councilor, sent Mayor Ron Holthusen a letter of resignation following the council's Aug. 1 meeting. Kyle didn't attend the following meeting on Aug. 22, when Holthusen read the letter to council members.
"Bill has really put in a lot of service to this community," Holthusen said. "He is one of the people who was instrumental in having me run for mayor. He has been a good support and a good friend."
Kyle was transported from his home in Shady Cove to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, where he spent three days recovering, he said.
"I'm doing just fine now, the paramedics came immediately. I was at the hospital within two hours of the stroke. ... My blood pressure was out of sight," Kyle said. "The doctor said it might not be a bad idea to cut out council."
When Kyle got to the hospital, he couldn't articulate anything, he said, but was feeling normal by the following afternoon.
"The last couple years it's been sort of challenging," Kyle said. "There was too much micromanaging from the City Council. ... Now the mayor is moving, the city administrator is in her last days ... the city has a lot of work to do," he said.
Kyle said his stroke has been a wake-up call, and he is enjoying relaxing with a bit more free time.
Kyle, who served on the Planning Commission and Citizen's Advisory Commission before City Council, said it is unlikely he will return to city government.
"My word of advice — whoever the next city administrator is — don't micromanage. Let him or her run the ship. That's why they get paid and we don't," Kyle said. "Once we all agree on the budget, we shouldn't be screwing around.
"I'm not sure it's going to change with me not there; it didn't change while I was. ... It's up to the citizens."
In May, Councilor Leith Hayes requested an executive session to formally reprimand Brakeman after a heated exchange during the May 2 council meeting, during which Hayes chided Brakeman for what he described as disrespectful and insubordinate behavior directed toward him.
It ended with an apology from Brakeman to Hayes. Neither councilors nor Holthusen would say what led to the formal split with their city administrator of nearly three years.
"Sometimes events and issues arise, and it has not been an easy thing here in Shady Cove the last three, four years with the economy," Holthusen said. "Through the course of events things just get to the point where moving forward in a different direction is better for everybody involved. ... It's just one of those decisions that you see in the business and the public sectors," he said.
Brakeman, who will remain in her role through the end of September, would not comment on the separation agreement, other than to say it was mutual.
"She has done some really wonderful things for the city in her tenure, no question about that," Holthusen said. "She had to make some tough decisions that weren't popular, but she has brought financial strength to the city. ... Her skills with city finances and budgeting are strong, she's done really a great job."
Councilor Jim Ulrich would not comment on Brakeman's departure, and Hayes did not return a phone message.
Councilor Gary Hughes would not comment on Brakeman's departure, but he said he hopes citizens haven't lost faith in the council.
"The city is moving on in a direction that is focused on giving our citizens the best service that we can," he said. "What I'd like the citizens to be comfortable with is that we are focused on their and the city's future, and we have a lot of things we're working on."
Holthusen, 70, in the first year of his third two-year term, said making the decision to uproot from Shady Cove for Jacksonville was a hard choice for him and his wife to make, but the couple are looking forward to settling into a new home on a piece of property they located years ago.
"It's a hard thing to do, because we've really enjoyed the community. There is a lot going for the area. It's been hit hard since 2008 with the economy, and it's been a struggle for the business community, but I think it's beginning to turn around some," Holthusen said. "We've enjoyed our time here, and I've enjoyed my term as mayor."
The Holthusens moved to Shady Cove nearly 10 years ago from Portland.
"I had really never lived in a small town before," he said. "We're looking forward to a little more urban setting with a little more accessibility to movies and theater and the events that are happening."
Holthusen began dabbling in city government after arriving in Shady Cove, first by forming a support group for the local Fire Department with his wife and then through volunteer citizen involvement and a stint on the Budget Committee.
"I think we've worked hard as a community to really do some positive things, and I think we have accomplished that," he said.
The Shady Cove City Council will meet tonight at 7 in City Hall, 22451 Highway 62. A study session is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
Among other business, councilors will discuss how to approach finding a replacement for former Councilor Bill Kyle, who resigned last month after suffering a stroke, Brakeman said.
Sam Wheeler is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.