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Forest Lake nears a hire for administrator

  • Article by: TIM HARLOW
  • Star Tribune
  • September 26, 2011 - 9:57 AM

The city of Forest Lake, which has been without an administrator since June, is close to filling the job.

The City Council voted last week to offer the position to Aaron Parrish, who is currently the city administrator in Crookston, Minn., where he has served the city of 7,800 people for the past seven years.

Parrish and the city were still negotiating final details of a contract that calls for him to be paid about $107,200, said Ellen Paulseth, Forest Lake's finance director and head of human resources. Parrish has conditionally accepted the position, said Richard Fursman, spokesman at Brimeyer Fursman Executive Consulting, which is negotiating Parrish's contract. The City Council also will have to give its final approval and is expected to review the final contract Monday, he said.

Parrish was selected over five other finalists to fill the position that has been vacant since Dan Coughlin resigned in June after being on the job for just six months. The previous city administrator, Chip Robinson, held that position for 33 years. Melinda Coleman of North Oaks was offered the job this summer, but she withdrew as a candidate, which extended the search.

Parrish has been an effective administrator who got along well with others, those who know him said. In Crookston, he was responsible for engineering many projects, including completing a flood project to protect the city, revamping city parks and building a new sports center. His current salary is $87,585.

Parrish holds a bachelor's degree in political science and urban studies from Hamline University in St. Paul. He earned his master's degree in urban and regional studies from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Parrish was an intern with the Anoka County Parks and Recreation Department and an administrative intern with the city of Oakdale. He worked as an economic development director for Mounds View from 1999 to 2001 and as a community development director and assistant city administrator for Arden Hills from 2001 to 2004. He has been city administrator overseeing a staff of 61 in Crookston since 2004.

Forest Lake has a $21 million budget and more than 50 full-time employees, including 28 police officers, as well as a number of part-time and seasonal workers.

If Parrish accepts the position, it will be the second big leadership position the city has filled in recent weeks. In August, the city named Rick Peterson as its new police chief and director of public safety. He took over for longtime chief Clark Quiring, who retired in June.

Tim Harlow • 651-925-5039 Twitter: @timstrib

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