Independence City Manager Kelly Passauer announced at tonight’s City Commission meeting that John Garris, of Independence, has accepted the position of City Engineer/Public Works and Utilities Director. Garris will replace Public Works Director Mike Passauer and Utilities Director Terry Lybarger, both of whom are scheduled to retire in 2021.
Garris will assume the role January 4 and will supervise all Public Works and Utilities departments, including airport, street, sanitation, water distribution, sewer collection, water treatment and wastewater treatment. The position also requires significant involvement in both short- and long-term planning for the City’s infrastructure.
Since 2008, Garris has been employed with Coffeyville Resources, where he has served as the Pipeline Engineering and Construction Manager as well as Vice President of Engineering and Construction for the Refining and Nitrogen divisions. In these roles, he has led all aspects of major construction projects and managed multi-million-dollar budgets.
His former employment includes serving as the Director of Engineering for Boardwalk Pipelines based in Houston, Texas; Manager of Projects for Koch Materials/Flint Hills Resources in Wichita and North Pole, Alaska; and Contract Manager for Martin K. Eby Construction Co. in Wichita. In addition to his engineering and design background, Garris brings extensive experience in policy development and personnel management, Passauer said.
“We were thrilled to find a local candidate with John’s caliber of expertise, and we’re excited to welcome him to the City of Independence team,” she said.
Garris and his wife, Sheri, moved to Independence in 2009 with sons Rich, currently a student at Kansas State University, and Jake, a freshman at Independence High School. Sheri works as an adjunct instructor at Independence Community College and an instructor at area high schools.
“This role gives me the opportunity to give back to the community I’ve loved for the last decade,” Garris said.
Filling the City Engineer position is part of an overall reorganization plan designed to enhance efficiency and improve customer service, Passauer said. A support position is also planned to be added to the Engineer/Public Works/Utilities department to help keep projects on task.