On Friday, June 5, Dodge City manager Cherise Tieben took part in her last official day of her 37-year-long career working for the City of Dodge City, during which she has shared many memories and earned the admiration of several of her co-workers.
Tieben has worked in nearly every facet of the city government, starting at age 16 as a summer seasonal employee then as a part-time employee while she attended college at Saint Mary’s of the Plains, until becoming the first female city manager of Dodge City.
Many of her co-workers have asserted that her biggest accomplishment, is successfully implementing the Rural Housing Incentive Districts (RHID) Program, which spun off from her work incorporating a population of around 35,000 from rural communities into the USDA Rural Development Program.
The RHID allows costs to be offset by contractors, giving them the ability to build more homes for the community, at a quicker rate, and became a model for other housing and home growth programs across Kansas.
Her co-workers’ acknowledgments of her, though, spans more than just her revolutionizing housing initiatives.
"I would say the accomplishments that stick out in my mind are working well with the county and opening the Long Branch Lagoon, the methane gas project, expanding retail on 14th Avenue, and of course her baby, the RHID," said Mayor Joyce Warshaw. "On a personal note, I think her greatest accomplishment was raising three amazing children and now becoming a grandmother. Cherise is a very special person on so many levels.
"She will be leaving a great mark on our city."
Warshaw is confident that Tieben’s work for the community, the state and the federal level will be remembered and referred to as a reputable impact in the future.
"In my three years working at the city, Cherise has been an inspiration," said public information officer Abbey Martin. "She’s very innovative in her thought process, and shows that just because something has never been done, doesn’t mean it can’t be done."
Martin said that, to her, Tieben had always encouraged her staff to find ways to complete the tasks that seemingly couldn’t be accomplished.
"I think she has been a huge impact to the community, even prior to becoming a city manager," said assistant city manager Ernestor De La Rosa.
Tieben had been critical in changing some of the guidelines under the USDA programs for rural America with the legislative delegation in Washington, all the while on the Dodge City forefront, she advocated for the STAR Bonds projects, which are set to revitalize the downtown area and aid in the Boot Hill Museum Expansion.
"She was integral in completing some of those projects by recruiting some of the retailers, investors, as well as dealing with all the legwork that has to do with the Department of Commerce in Topeka and the local commissions in the county and city," said De La Rosa.
Fellow assistant city manager Melissa McCoy added, "I think Cherise is one of those people that likes to ask that question, 'How do we get this done and how do we get it done without causing undue burden on the citizens of our community,' and I think that’s been really apparent, with the projects that Ernestor has been talking about.
"Those have been projects that brought in outside funds to our community, so it didn’t put a burden on the local taxpayer."
Other notable projects that Tieben worked on include the nationally acknowledged and award-winning Warrior Biogas project, of which development spanned nearly three decades before being realized, and her work as an advocate to bring USCIS Mobile Services to southwest Kansas.
"Cherise Tieben has done an amazing job for this city," said Nick Hernandez, her successor as city manager. "She will definitely be missed, and I am very fortunate to be following her, because she’s left behind such a great legacy and I hope I can match her success."
As an additional tribute to her monumental career, the City of Dodge City has declared June 5 to be Cherise Tieben Day.