SLAYTON — Murray County Administrator Tom Burke is three weeks into his newly created position and settling into his role supervising the county's departments.
A native of Anamosa, Iowa, Burke's last position was as the Deputy Director of Health and Human Services and Veteran Services for Cass County in Minnesota. He said human services is such a large department — and such a significant portion of the county budget — that the role helped prepare him to manage the needs of all county departments.
"I still have to learn a lot, though," he added.
Since Burke is Murray County's first administrator, his duties are still evolving. He noted that the county department heads are essential in educating him about the unique needs of Murray County.
"Through that education, I get to know the individuals and their staff," he said. "The department heads work well together."
The essential difference between the previous Murray County position of coordinator and Burke's new role as administrator is that a coordinator acts as a liaison between the department heads and the board of commissioners, whereas an administrator supervises the department heads. However, Burke noted, department heads still have full access to the board. He is responsible for working with the departments heads on plans and budgeting, as well as evaluating their progress.
"The ability to build (the position) is what's intriguing," he said, adding that he looks forward to working through problems together as they arise.
"I've had a warm welcome," Burke said of his first few weeks on the job. So far, he has been getting to know the folks that work with and around him, as well as touring the county a little at a time.
Burke has been staying with his in-laws in Spirit Lake, Iowa, which he said allows him to drive home a different way each time so he can see more of the area.
This weekend, though, Burke and his wife will move into their new rental home in Fulda — about equidistant from his job in Slayton and hers as a speech therapist with Southwest West Central Service Cooperative in Worthington.
The Burkes enjoying biking together and plan to take advantage of local trails. Burke also looks forward to getting back into golf.