City's parks and rec director, Joe Simonson, on admin leave, says he will retire March 1

Updated 8 years ago By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor
Joe Simonson retirement
Joe Simonson retirement

The City of Lemoore announced this morning (Feb. 29) that its longtime employee, and Parks and Recreation Director Joe Simonson, after nearly three months on administrative leave, will retire. His retirement takes effect tomorrow (March 1).

City employees were told of Simonson’s impending retirement in an 8:30 a.m. meeting on Monday. It is still unclear as to what prompted city officials to place him on administrative leave.

Simonson was placed on administrative leave in early December while city officials kept mum on the reasons for it, saying said that the matter is a “personnel decision… and not a matter for public discussion.”

City Manager Andi Welsh issued a press release on the matter Monday morning.

Simonson began his 23-year career with the City of Lemoore as a Senior Maintenance Worker in 1993 and was promoted to Public Works Superintendent in 2001. In 2008, he accepted his current position of Parks and Recreation Director.

In her release, Welsh stated that “Simonson was part of the city during a time of growth and change in Parks and Recreation and was instrumental in the development of the Cinnamon Municipal Complex into a hub of community recreation.”

Welsh said the city will begin a search for a new Parks and Recreation director in the near future, but will rename the position as Community Services Director.

Most city officials supported the city manager’s stance in regards to Simonson, saying she followed state and city code in respect to Simonson’s privacy rights. "I respect Mr. Simonson's service to Lemoore and wish him well," said Council Member Ray Madrigal. "I am also glad to have this situation behind us and glad we can move on with a replacement. Parks and Rec is comprised of many dedicated employees. The new director will be joining a leadership team that seeks to maximize the potential of all city employees."

However, some city officials weren’t so pleased. Recreation Commission Chairman Dustin Fuller blasted Welsh at a commission meeting saying that she “failed to notify this commission that our director was placed on leave. It took you five days to give us information…” He also added that the issue was financial, saying the inaction against Simonson was “not fair to the taxpayer. Paying him for nothing is wrong too.”

The only council member to complain was Billy Siegel who blasted the city manager for not keeping him informed. “I’m on the city council and we’re supposed to be in charge of this town. but we don’t have a lot of the answers…”

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