Familiar face slips in as interim city administrator

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Chad Abram

By Correne Martin

An unexpected change has taken place at Prairie du Chien City Hall. After accepting the city administrator position just four months ago, Art Osten Jr. has parted ways with the city, as both he and the common council determined the job was not a good fit for either of them.

The “separation” was approved by the council Oct. 17, after closed session review of Osten’s goals and work performance.

The council also voted to make an agreement with Police Chief Chad Abram to become the interim city administrator. City Clerk Tina Fuller and City Planner Garth Frable will provide Abram their expertise with financials, projects, debt borrowing and such, while he will take on more of the day-to-day organization, service and management.

The city will continue its hunt for a permanent administrator, as its contract with HR.gov runs through June 2018. The company helped Prairie du Chien find Osten after seven-year City Administrator Aaron Kramer left March 3 to become the Hobart village administrator.

“I told the council I’d be willing to step up because I like dealing with people and I love this community,” Abram said. “It’s going to be a combined effort moving forward. The city needs a group of people—department heads, employees and the community—working together in order for it to thrive. My heart is with the police department but I have good leadership and I’ll do my best because of my passion for this city I’ve called home for 19 years.”

Abram said, during this transition, the council has given him the flexibility to continue his service as police chief throughout the interim process. He will be armed and capable to respond to critical law enforcement matters when necessary. He said he’s confident in his police staff, especially his commanders, who will step up in supervision and management of the department as he spends more time at city hall.  

“[The department] is self-sustaining. I’ll still plan to get there once or twice a day though,” Abram noted.

In a press release, Mayor Dave Hemmer stated, “Chief Abram brings the energy, organizational and management skills, and vision that Prairie du Chien needs during this transition period. In the past 10 months, the city has lost many excellent staff to retirement or career advancement—well over 100 years of combined experience and knowledge—and this transition has been very challenging at a time when the city has been busier than ever.”

Abram is a native of Anoka, Minn., is married to Lisa and has two children, Lydia and Emma. He has served on the Prairie du Chien Police Department for over 17 years, rising from patrol officer, school resource officer, detective and sergeant to become chief of police in 2010.

Abram currently serves as Kiwanis Club president and on the Crossing Rivers Health and Crawford County Community Fund boards of directors.

For the days ahead, Abram is mostly excited about the opportunity he’s been offered. He is ready to learn and grow as a leader, while sharing his style of energetic, ethical, approachable administration.

“I’m always looking for the next task, the next goal,” he added. “I have the utmost respect for the city staff and the work they do. The transition will be a success if we work as a team and keep our focus on providing quality service for the public.”

He noted that key focus points for city hall at this time are the 2018 budget as well as keeping morale high, staying positive and, “at the end of the day, having boots on the ground” getting the work done.

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