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The City of Seward now operates under a permanent city manager for the first time since October. Wadena, Minnesota’s Janette Bower assumed the post on Monday, replacing Harbormaster Norm Regis, who had taken up the role of acting city manager since the dismissal of Scott Meszaros left a vacancy last fall. Monday’s City Council sessions marked the first to be attended by Bower in her new capacity, and Harbormaster Regis addressed the Council at the conclusion of those sessions to express confidence in his replacement and urge the Council to foster a climate of open communication.

“The last six months we worked together a lot,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of good things. We always didn’t agree, but we continued on working together. So one thing I wish that would continue is communication with administration, because it really worked out good. You called, we answered, vice versa. So it’s really nice. This just keeps the communication line open, and I think things go a whole lot better. I’ve been here a long time. I saw it. Stephen’s great at responding – you guys know that – and Janette’s going to be the same way.”

Assistant City Manager Stephen Sowell welcomed Bower and expressed his gratitude to Regis. 

“He’s a real asset to our organization and the Seward community in so many ways, and I have learned a lot from Norm in the last six months and look forward to continue on working with Norm into the many, many years to come,” he said. “I want to welcome Janette as well. It’s a pleasure to start day one. Just to echo what Norm said, I feel like we’re moving in a really positive direction since that first meeting in November. I feel like we’re getting better and better, and we’re working closer and closer as a collaborative team.”

Bower responded by expressing her enthusiasm for the future.

“Through the application process I’ve watched the meetings and communicated with both Norm and Stephen, and watching the meetings and watching how you work together to solve issues, that made me want to apply,” she said, “and I’m looking forward to working together as a team to solve issues and having fun doing it.”

Though the position of city manager has historically seen a high rate of turnover under previous City Councils, Bower will be the first to fill the role permanently for the Council in its current iteration.