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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Water Department's fifth GM in history adjusting to new role

  • He's been on the job for a little more than month, but the Leavenworth Water Department's new general manager says he's still settling into the community.
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    • Story at a glance ...

      • Joel Mahnken became the Leavenworth Water Department's general manager July 7.


      • He is the fifth general manager sin...

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      Story at a glance ...

      • Joel Mahnken became the Leavenworth Water Department's general manager July 7.



      • He is the fifth general manager since the department became independent from the city of Leavenworth in 1937.



      • He has 28 years of experience working with public utility systems.



      • Mahnken, 53, is originally from southeast Missouri.

  • He's been on the job for a little more than month, but the Leavenworth Water Department's new general manager says he's still settling into the community.
    Joel Mahnken, 53, took the reins at the Water Department on July 7.
    "It's a very good group of employees," Mahnken said of the department, and it seems to have a good governing board.
    The Leavenworth Water Department operates independently of the city of Leavenworth's municipal government. The department is governed by a five-member elected board.
    Mahnken is only the fifth person to occupy the position of general manager since the Water Department became independent from the city in 1937.
    Mahnken replaced John Kaufman, who resigned in November.
    Financial Manager Lesia Hegeman served as the Water Department's acting general manager until Mahnken came on board last month.
    Mahnken has 28 years of experience working in public utilities. He came to Leavenworth after managing utility systems in Clarksdale, Miss.
    Mahnken said he has a lot of experience working in the Midwest and other Kansas communities, such as Wellington and Garden City.
    "I've spent quite a bit of time in Kansas," he said.
    Greg Kaaz, chairman of the Leavenworth Waterworks Board, said there were probably more than 100 applicants for general manager. He said Mahnken brings a number of years of experience in the utility management industry.
    Kaaz said the board feels Mahnken is a good fit.
    "We were excited that he was able to join us," Kaaz said.
    The chairman said Mahnken wants to be part of the the community.
    "That's the type of person we were looking for," Kaaz said.
    Mahnken said he's still orienting himself to the Leavenworth community. He said it's nice Leavenworth has a small-town atmosphere but is near the Kansas City metropolitan area.
    "I personally prefer the small-town atmosphere," he said.
    Mahnken is originally from southeast Missouri.
    He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla, now called Missouri University of Science and Technology.
    He is a licensed professional engineer in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
    Mahnken said one of the biggest challenges facing the Leavenworth Water Department is maintaining its infrastructure.
    "It's an aging system," he said, though it was designed well and is still in good condition.

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