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Wickham resigns as Nisswa city planner

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After more than ten years with the city of Nisswa, city planner/planning and zoning administrator Loren Wickham submitted his resignation on Monday, July 28.

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In his letter of resignation, Wickham states, "I feel very fortunate to have served the city of Nisswa for the last ten years, but have decided to pursue other opportunities."

Wickham's resignation is effective Aug. 11. He declined to comment further on the resignation.

In an email, Nisswa Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Shawn Hansen wrote, "It has been such a pleasure working with Loren. He has been a great asset to the city, and a strong advocate for business."

Wickham is the second department head to resign this month. On July 16, the council accepted the resignation of longtime park director Paula Anderson, effective Aug. 1. In her letter, Anderson said she was retiring. She worked for the city for nearly 20 years.

Nisswa has been a city embroiled in turmoil for the past year. Last July, longtime Council Member Lenny Hodgson resigned after a heated meeting that involved discussions of incorporating a city administrator into city staff.

A month after that meeting, police Chief Craig Taylor was suspended and offered a year's pay to resign. Taylor said he believed the action stemmed from him speaking out at the meeting about the city administrator position.

After Taylor's suspension, some city supervisory employees petitioned the Bureau of Mediation Services to form a collective bargaining unit. The council reinstated Taylor after learning it couldn't make any staffing changes until the petition for unionization was settled.

The vote for unionization passed, and the following positions became part of the Minnesota Public Employees Association: city clerk, police chief, fire chief, planning and zoning administrator, Spirits manager, Pickle Factory manager, parks director and public works director.

The union contract was on the agenda for a special Nisswa City Council meeting Wednesday, July 30, among other items.

Also in the past year, council members Jan Pierce and Tina Foster resigned, and several residents have repeatedly asked for Mayor Brian Lehman's resignation.

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