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Clinton drops economic development chief

Clinton drops economic development chief

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CLINTON - Clinton Economic Development Director Steve Vandiver was taken by surprise Monday night by a city council vote to eliminate his position.

"I was completely surprised. The topic "administrative assistants to the city council" was on the agenda but I had no idea there would a decision on anything," Vandiver said Tuesday.

After a closed session of about 20 minutes, the Clinton City Council voted 4 to 1 to eliminate the economic development post within 90 days. Commissioner Scott Alexander was the lone vote against the decision. Supporting the move were Major Roger Cyrulik and Commissioners Dallas Harris, Jerry Milton and Bryan Hickman.

Vandiver said he has received no explanation for the decision other than comments from the mayor that a recent move toward countywide economic development will replace Clinton's program.

Harris said Tuesday that the initiative to expand economic development was behind his vote to eliminate the city position.

"I think the majority on the council favor the concept of economic development. That was the emphasis of what we talked about in closed session," said Harris.

The 90-day time line was recommended by city attorney Steve Myers, said Harris.

The DeWitt County Economic Development Committee is working on plans to establish a countywide economic development program that could include a paid director. A steering committee of community leaders is putting together a business plan for the project.

The city of Clinton has pledged $30,000 towards the county economic development plan. The DeWitt County Board has asked for a business plan before making a financial commitment. Support from other communities in the county also may boost the countywide program.

The relationship between Cyrulik and Vandiver has been a rocky one since Cyrulik took over as mayor three years ago. The council approved a recommendation last year that resulted in a decrease in Vandiver's salary and an end to an agreement that shared Vandiver's time with the Clinton Chamber of Commerce.

Vandiver said Tuesday that the council's decision comes at a time when economic development news is good for the city.

"It's ironic that the last seven months have been the most successful we've had with Aramark Uniform coming back, a new movie theatre planned and the former Revere building being filled. I can walk away proud of what we've accomplished," said Vandiver.

The economic development director said he is optimistic that the county economic development committee will move forward.

"If the county wants to pick up economic development and continue with the things that are in the works, I hope they do it," said Vandiver.

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