OTHELLO — It was a big year in Othello in 2018, with the year seeing the sale of one of its largest companies, the resignation of a city administrator and the appointment of a full-time mayor, and the death of a member of the city council.
In January of 2018, Evergreen Implements owner Roger Thieme announced he was selling the company — which by the late 1970s had become a national model for John Deere retailers — to North Dakota-based RDO Equipment.
“I’ve been in business 52 years, I’m 83 now,” Thieme said. “My son is an attorney is Seattle and he doesn’t want to run (the company).”
The deal turned RDO into the second-largest seller and servicer of John Deere equipment in the country — a scale Thieme said was necessary.
“In order to take care of customers in the way they expect to be taken care of requires scale,” he said.
Thieme said and RDO owner Ron Offut had been talking about doing a deal for a long time.
“Ronnie and I have been talking about this for the last four years,” he said. “A couple of things happened that accelerated it by a few years, and maybe right now is the time to do it.”
And by early summer, when the Evergreen signs were all being replaced by RDO signs, City Administrator Wade Farris announced in July that he was resigning to take up the post of city administrator in Gig Harbor, where his wife has family.
“I sort of got recruited by the mayor over there,” said Farris, a retired Air Force major general. “My wife has a twin sister, so we both have family over there. We did this for professional and personal reasons.”
Farris’ resignation left an opening for the city administrator, which Othello filled by changing the city code and allowing the mayor to assume the position.
According to City Attorney Kelly Konkright, Othello, like a lot of cities, has hired city administrators to do the day-to-day running of the city because most mayors have full-time jobs.
“All the authority of the city administrator sits within the office of the mayor,” Konkright explained. “The city administrator does the full-time work, exercising the mayor’s authority.”
“This was originally not my idea,” said Mayor Shawn Logan. “I was approached by (Council Member John) Lallas and staff that this is the direction the city needs to take at this time.”
Logan, who ran the Othello office of Basin Insurance, said he wanted to continue to oversee the city’s major water projects — the re-drilling of Well No. 3, the creation of an industrial water recycling facility, and the building of a major new reservoir, all designed to secure enough water for Ohthello for the foreseeable future.
Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org