MITCHELL — Jeff Sprock has seen numerous improvements during his three years as Mitchell city administrator — but now he’s headed for a new challenge.
Negotiations have been going on since summer, but at the Tuesday meeting of the Alliance City Council, members voted to hire Sprock as deputy city manager.
Beginning Nov. 1, Sprock will work under City Manager Rick Kuckkahn for the next six months and assume the position once Kuckkahn retires.
“Jeff has the experience we were looking for and has knowledge of the community,” Kuckkahn said. “He’s set a career path for himself through additional education and this job is consistent with that path.”
In the beginning, Sprock will familiarize himself with the Alliance community and getting to know its leaders and institutions like the school system and the hospital.
“The position was created to allow some transition time for Jeff to be mentored on the job for about six months,” Kuckkahn said. “This is a great way for me to wrap up my career as a city manager.”
Sprock became Mitchell city administrator in October 2015 after nine years as a field data coordinator with the North Platte Natural Resources District. Part of the job was mapping for groundwater purposes. He also helped the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission develop a smart phone app showing all the wildlife and recreation areas in the state.
“My degree is in both biology and political science,” he said. “While I was working at the NRD, I became interested in some of the policy development for water allocation and usage.”
Through his public policy interest, Sprock was accepted at the University of Nebraska at Omaha into the master’s degree program in public administration.
“I was living in Mitchell at the time when Ty Abernethy retired as city administrator,” Sprock said. “I wanted to advance my career and thought it would be a good opportunity to work with a great staff.”
One of first big projects he helped tackle was siting a new lagoon system to treat the city’s wastewater. The new $4.1 million lagoon system will replace the current lagoons, built in the 1960s.
The new lagoons are expected to be completed in March 2019. More than half the cost was paid for by grants, lowering the cost to city taxpayers.
Sprock also helped revise the management system for the Mitchell Care Center nursing home.
“Working with the city, they turned things around in the last two years,” he said. “There have been a lot of improvements. The budget that used to be severely in the red is now showing profits every month.”
He said it was also fun to work with Panhandle Area Development District and the Western Nebraska Economic Development group to help revitalize the economic picture for small communities.
“There are still a lot of things sitting on the table for our next administrator to start working on,” he said. “One of the challenges we still face is getting a grocery store back in Mitchell. Not having one can be difficult, especially for our elderly population.”
Sprock said Mitchell has three current projects going on that have nothing to do with city help, so he’s optimistic about the city’s future. The old downtown bowling alley building has been redone, a new car shop is opening and another business is adding upstairs apartments.
But with a new job comes new opportunities and challenges so Sprock said he’s excited about working with city staff in Alliance.
“My management style isn’t top down where everyone is told what to do,” he said. “I like the servant leadership model, helping people to grow professionally and providing guidance as needed.”
Sprock said he’ll miss the relationships he’s developed with the city staff in his tenure at Mitchell.
“Everyone I’ve worked with wants to see Mitchell be a better place,” he said. “Although we’ve faced a number of challenges, some good things came out of them.”