GREAT BEND, Kan. (KSNW) – Within the last 24 hours, two Great Bend city officials have resigned. This comes after hundreds of residents demanded the police chief be reinstated, after many say he was unjustly suspended more than a month ago.
With the new vacancies, council members are calling for an emergency meeting.
“We have a heck of a mess on our hands right now,” said Great Bend City Council member Dana Dawson.
“It has been kind of chaotic,” explained Great Bend resident Penny Jones.
Howard Partington resigned as city administrator Wednesday, creating a domino effect.
“It leaves our town in a mess. I mean we don’t have an administrator, we haven’t had an assistant administrator, we don’t have a police chief,” explained Dawson. “Our fire chief is resigning effective September 1 but he is now taking his two weeks vacation.”
Partington was the acting police chief after the city council suspended Police Chief Cliff Couch a month ago. Partington was also accused by Couch of trying to hide issues within the police department. Partington was also set to assume the role of fire chief in September.
Suspended police chief Cliff Couch may not be on the job, but he said he feels the stress now more than ever.
“I can only imagine the last couple of weeks has just decimated the morale there,” said Couch. “In some ways we are probably worse off than when we were before they did this.”
Couch could be reinstated during the emergency meeting in Great Bend Friday. With today’s resignation of council member Wayne Henneke, Couch’s reinstatement may be more likely. Henneke was effectively the swing vote in keeping Couch suspended.
“I am not going to take anything for granted at this point. It has been kind of a roller coaster and I have seen a lot of ups and downs that I never would have expected to happen,” explained Couch.
Couch said he has missed wearing the badge, and he’s hopeful that he will wear it again.
“I am just going to, kind of, keep my fingers crossed and keep in my prayers,” added Couch.
Hundreds of people in Great Bend have shown their support for Couch, from yard signs to packing the house at the last council meeting.
“He has done nothing wrong, as far as I know, and I just think it is time to get him back in,” said Jones.
The emergency meeting will be held Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the event center in Great Bend.