Cottonwood promotes Bliss to city administrator

COTTONWOOD — For only the second time in almost a half century, residents of Cottonwood have a new administrator at the city office.

Council members voted at Tuesday night’s meeting to hire Teather Bliss, the current Cottonwood city clerk, for the soon-to-be vacant administrator position. Bliss was one of four finalists who participated in an interview process.

Charlie Seipel, who has served the city in several capacities since 2006, is leaving at the end of February to accept the administrator job in Empire Township, Dakota County.

Bliss, originally from Oklahoma, lives in rural Canby with her husband and 15-month old son. Her husband and father-in-law have a farm operation.

Along with her experience as Cottonwood’s city clerk, she has other public administration experience with the city of Clarkfield.

She said she applies the same kind of principles to public service that help to strengthen her religious faith, principles that involve consideration of more than just her own short-term needs.

“I’m committed to doing good things as often as I can and to helping the community,” Bliss said. “When people work with the city office, I want them to believe that we honestly care.”

She said she has a very favorable impression of the entire Cottonwood City Council, and that she’s ready to carry out the goals they set for Cottonwood.

“Cottonwood is a very friendly community, a place where people look out for each other,” she said.

“The council has very good dynamics. All of the members are there for the betterment of the community.”

From working side-by-side with Bliss at the city office, Seipel is confident that she’ll succeed with helping the city reach its current goals.

As examples, he said one of the most important needs involves finding a buyer and occupant for the industrial park buildings vacated in 2018 by Norcraft Inc., which was Cottonwood’s largest employer. Another need is for the city’s proposed community foundation fund to begin with a successful start-up phase.

He chose to accept the Empire Township position for both personal and professional reasons since his fiancee is employed in the Twin Cities metro area.

On the professional side, he sees his new job as an opportunity to build on the public administrative experience he gained in Cottonwood.

Many of Empire Township’s business items relate to urban expansion in Dakota County. Seipel said the township is located near the center of its county, with urban areas to the north and west and rural townships in the south and east.

During his years in Cottonwood, he played a role in establishing a bike path between C.W. Reishus Park on Cottonwood Lake and the K-12 Lakeview School. He also coordinated upgrades to the fire hall, maintenance building, library and community center; along with a city water main project.

“I’ll miss Cottonwood, but I’m looking forward to the new challenges,” Seipel said. “It’s a step forward for me in more ways than one.”