The proverbial “offer you can’t refuse” is leading Matthew Kibbon and his family back to Wyoming.
North Platte Mayor Dwight Livingston announced Wednesday that Kibbon, 42, has resigned as city administrator after three months on the job.
He’ll be returning to his old job at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, where Kibbon had been deputy director for planning and construction since 2015.
This time, however, he expects to occupy that post temporarily “with an opportunity for progression” to become the university’s associate vice president for operations, Kibbon told The Telegraph.
The City Council on April 21 confirmed Kibbon’s hiring to succeed Jim Hawks, who retired at the end of May after 16 years as city administrator and 17 in North Platte city government.
Livingston nominated Kibbon April 9 from among three finalists who received second interviews from a committee of city officials and City Council members.
Kibbon told The Telegraph he’ll leave no later than Oct. 27 but will stay at Livingston’s request through the city’s 2020-21 budget-setting process. That climaxes right after Labor Day.
The mayor praised Kibbon and the tone he has set in city government in a morning press release on the resignation and a subsequent Telegraph interview.
“Mr. Kibbon and I have had a great working relationship; I respect his decision and wish him the best,” the mayor said in the press release.
“Matt has worked hard to have every city employee strive for excellence in each of their respective positions. He has also worked to provide more transparency to the community as it relates to issues before city government.”
Kibbon stressed that “this is purely a Matt Kibbon-and-family-based decision” and has nothing to do with his brief time in North Platte.
“I’ve had a difficult time expressing this,” he said. “It’s emotional for me.
“There’s a lot of great people in the community and the city of North Platte. I assure you (that) people are pushing in the same direction to make North Platte a better place and to grow North Platte’s economy.”
Livingston, who isn’t seeking re-election, said he expects to quickly repost the administrator’s job. But he’ll likely need to appoint an interim administrator from among current city staff, he added.
“Given the time frame” before the next mayor and new council members take office in December, “I don’t know (that) I’ll be the person who makes the choice” for a permanent successor, he told The Telegraph.
The mayor’s other finalists in April were Judy Clark, planning administrator for both North Platte and Lincoln County, and Stephen McGrath, manager of the Casper Ice Arena in Wyoming’s second-largest city.
Twenty-six people had applied to succeed Hawks after he announced his retirement last December.
The wheels sending Kibbon back west started turning unexpectedly a few days ago, the departing administrator said.
A University of Wyoming vice president contacted him after a recent university board meeting “that didn’t go as planned.”
He “reached out to me and asked what he should do, and I said if I could come back in my supervisor’s job, I would come back,” Kibbon said.
But he told the vice president he didn’t want to take his old job back permanently “because I took this (North Platte) job for additional responsibilities.”
The university agreed, and Kibbon notified Livingston July 29. City Council members were told Tuesday, and Kibbon broke the news to city staff early Wednesday, he said.
It’s the second time in Kibbon’s career that a previous employer has asked him to come back.
The career construction engineer, who grew up in Hampton, Nebraska, joined Omaha’s Kiewit Building Group in 2001 after graduating from Wayne State College.
He worked on major building projects for Kiewit all but one year until 2013, when the state of Wyoming hired him to oversee construction projects for that state’s community colleges.
Kibbon left Kiewit in 2004 to join Walsh Construction Co. in Indianapolis, but returned in 2005 at his old firm’s request.
He said his wife, Jenna, and young daughters Lillian and Madison will be returning soon to Cheyenne. They had sold their house there but had not yet bought one in North Platte.
Jenna Kibbon, an instructor in Laramie County Community College’s physical therapy assistant program, will continue in that job. She had been unable to find a position in North Platte, her husband said.
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