Council votes to hire Rogers as new city manager

Robert Smith

The Pawhuska City Council voted 5-0 last Thursday evening to offer the job of city manager to Anthony Rogers, a former deputy chief of the Ponca City Police Department.

Rogers was one of three finalists for the manager job that the council interviewed in a special meeting that began at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and concluded shortly before 7:30.

The finalists were drawn from a pool of some 10 applicants for the position, officials said. By Monday, Aug. 3, details regarding the hiring of Rogers were still being worked out, and it was not yet known when he might report for work at City Hall. Pawhuska offered Rogers a salary of $70,000, with a six-month severance.

Rogers said Tuesday morning that his contract with Pawhuska had not yet been finalized.

Rogers, now 46, retired in 2018 as deputy chief of the Ponca City police after 20 years with the department. During his law-enforcement career, he served as a motorcycle officer, was involved with narcotics enforcement, and graduated from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy. Since retiring from police duties, Rogers has worked as chief of staff for Bethany municipal government, and he has most recently been supervisor of Support Services for the Ponca City police. That civilian-side post involves overseeing a 911 communications center, the department’s records division and payroll.

“I think Pawhuska is absolutely poised for great growth in the future,” Rogers said by telephone Monday. “I think Pawhuska is in a position that it has absolutely great opportunities.”

Asked to identify a key element of his approach to the city manager job, Rogers spoke of developing a team mindset among city employees.

“Absolutely a team mindset. It is extremely important to have everyone on-board,” Rogers said. “Everybody has to be on that same team mindset for the growth.”

Rogers follows former City Manager Dave Neely in Pawhuska government’s leading executive position. Neely resigned March 13, following an executive session of the City Council. City Clerk Tonya Bright has filled in as interim city manager.

Neely had been city manager since Aug. 1, 2019. Before the hiring of Neely, there had been an extended period when interim managers served Pawhuska, following the resignation in late October 2017 of City Manager Mike McCartney. Pawhuska will be looking to Rogers to bring continuity to the city manager post.