For a year, Patrick Casey had been wearing two official hats in Sugar Creek.
A longtime firefighter for the city, Casey had also been serving as interim city administrator in addition to being fire chief.
At Monday's Board of Aldermen meeting, he was sworn in as full-time city administrator. Casey then swore in Nathan Richardson, a 10-year veteran of the department, as the new fire chief in front of a standing-room only crowd at city hall.
Casey became interim city administrator when longtime leader Ron Martinovich retired. He had been with the fire department for 36 years, including 24 as deputy chief and seven as chief, but new gig grew on him, he admitted.
“I pretty much know the city,” he said. “There are a few things with administration that I had to learn, like of the budgeting, and with economic development I still have a bit to learn.
“We're kind of stagnated,” Casey said regarding development. “I've got to get out there and beat the bushes and see if can bring in some development, always things we can do better with all things in the city.”
Mayor Mike Larson said the city knew a couple years ago that Martinovich would be retiring and had started seeking out his successor. The city had eight applicants, but then Linda Martinovich announced her retirement as finance director and the city shifted gears to replace her first. That resulted in Casey taking on interim administrator duties.
Larson said six of eight original applicants agreed to come back this year for interviews, and they had a candidate from the metro area that they hoped would take the job.
“In the end we just couldn't come to terms,” Larson said.
When he broke that news at an aldermen meeting, Larson said, Alderman Stan Sagehorn pointed toward Casey and said, “Well, there's our guy.”
At that point, Larson said, selecting Casey was a “no-brainer,” and the vote to hire him was unanimous.
“I was especially looking forward to it, so I can go back to being full-time mayor,” Larson said. “Pat and I have developed a good working relationship and communicate every day.
“He's proved more than his weight in his gold,” Larson.
Likewise, Casey is thrilled to have Richardson succeed him.
“He'd come up through the ranks,” Casey said of Richardson, who had been a captain. “I've been mentoring him and grooming him to take over the position.”
Richardson will guide a department of six full-time firefighters and 20 reserves.
“He's been under the tutelage of Pat for a long time,” Larson said. “He's responded in every positive way that he could (to be ready to be chief), taking classes and getting certified.”