City Manager Nick Edwards announces the retirement of Assistant City Manager Dan Pekarek, effective October 4, 2021. Pekarek has been with the City for 35 years. During this time, he served as the Public Health Director for 23 years and was appointed Interim City Manager in March 2019 through March 2020. He was named Assistant City Manager in June 2020.
“We thank Dan for his many years of service here at the City and his commitment to our organization and community,” said Edwards. “Dan led the effort of significant public health projects to assist and protect the wellbeing of our citizens. Dan worked closely with the Environmental Protection Agency and Joplin property owners during the EPA’s Super Fund Yard Clean Up project in our community. Through his career, he has championed and educated the community on many public health issues and served in City administrative roles. His leadership and dedication to public service is admirable.”
Edwards noted his work with other individuals resulted in the establishment of the Jasper and Newton Counties Community Health Collaborative, and later development of the Joplin, Jasper and Newton Counties Emergency Healthcare Coalition. Recently in his role as Assistant City Manager, he led the work to develop 50-plus Action Plans for the City to follow as we move forward in addressing the City Council’s goals of community betterment.
Pekarek began his career with the City in 1986 as an Environmental Sanitarian (now known as Environmental Health Specialist) and worked in that position for about eight years when he was promoted to Lead Sanitarian of the Joplin Health Department. In 1996 he was named Director of the Health Department and served in that position for 23 years. During his tenure, he provided oversight and direction of the department’s operations and championed many public health issues through advocacy and education. Some of these issues include community water fluoridation, improved ordinances for the City’s Animal Control division, the City’s Tobacco 21 passage, and Joplin’s prescription drug monitoring ordinance approval in recent years.
He promoted healthy diets and active lifestyles for citizens, along with Community Health Needs Assessments conducted with affiliated health organizations. He led the Health Department’s response to the national disaster in 2011 when Joplin was struck by and EF-5 tornado, and assisted staff during the outbreak and management of the Coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. He served as the Interim City Manager from March 2019 to March 2020. He was named Assistant City Manager in June 2020 with administration and oversight responsibilities of City departments. In this role, he worked with the City’s management team to develop programs and processes to address Council’s recent goals to benefit the Joplin community. He worked closely with City Manager Edwards to keep him apprised of ongoing projects, financial status, employee relation issues and other progress relating to legislation, economic development, City operations and governmental activities.
Pekarek has served as chairman of several health-related boards in the community, including Jasper and Newton Counties Community Health Collaborative and Joplin, Jasper and Newton Counties Emergency Healthcare Coalition. He also is a member of the One Joplin Steering team. He is a charter member of the Environmental Task Force of Jasper and Newton Counties and is chairman of the Four State Clean Air Alliance. Pekarek has also served on numerous other local and state committees over his 35-year career.
“It has been a great honor to have worked for the City of Joplin for these 35 years,” said Pekarek. “I can’t begin to list literally the hundreds of city employees I have had the privilege to serve with over the years. The City is blessed to have a committed, high-quality staff, devoted to providing exemplary service to residents. This has been what I have witnessed over my 35 years of employment. I cannot, in good conscience discuss the staff I have worked with and not make special mention of the many, many colleagues I had the immense honor to work with at the Joplin City Health Department. Whatever success the department (not me) had in my 20 plus years as department head is completely attributed to them. They always made me look good. I wish them, and Ryan Talken the new department director all success in the future.”
“Dan has been a trusted leader in our organization,” said Edwards. “The City of Joplin is truly fortunate to have had Dan’s skills and abilities for 35 years. He’s been a great asset for us and the community. We wish him well in the next phase of his life.”
Edwards and Pekarek will work on transition plans in the upcoming weeks. The City will begin a search process for the permanent replacement at a later date.