Morrison police chief named city’s administrator, won’t be able to serve on county board

Brian melton

MORRISON – Brian Melton, chief of police in Morrison nearly 14 years, Monday was named its new city administrator.

That’s good news for the city, maybe not such good news for the county.

Melton, 52, was elected in April to a spot in District 3 by virtue of the fact that seven people ran for seven open spots, meaning no runoff in the general election.

State statute prohibits him for serving in both governmental positions, though, so after the Nov. 8 election, he’ll resign and the Whiteside County Board will have to appoint another Republican to fill that seat.

As administrator, he is replacing Barry Dykhuizen, who left Aug. 1 for an assistant city administrator’s post in Moline.

Melton, who takes over officially on Saturday, has been acting administrator since.

Sgt. Kevin “Rudy” Soenksen, who’s been with the department the better part of 18 years, will serve as acting chief of police during the search for a permanent replacement.

Melton, a Lanark native, was a Jo Daviess County sheriff’s administrative lieutenant and served in that department 17 years before taking the job as Morrison’s top cop on Feb, 1, 2009.

He said he’s looking forward to a new challenge, and he’s been considering the administrator’s role city for a while now.

“It was always in he back of my mind through my experience working with city administration,” he said Tuesday.

“I wasn’t expecting Barry to leave this soon, but I was offered the opportunity to be the acting city administrator, I like the administrative part of it, the planing and so forth, and its something a little different.

“I’ve been in law enforcement more than 31 years, and it’s time to try to try something different.”

As city administrator, he plans to tackle the city’s parks and rec program.

“That’s been in conversation and debate for as long as I’ve been here, and so i hope to imrpove that program and what it offers to our community,” he said.

“We need more volunteerism ,and people to step up and help.”

He really was looking forward to serving on the county board, he said. “I just didn’t see this coming.”

Soenksen was hired in Morrison in 2001, then went to work for the Fulton Police Department for about three years while working part-time for Morison, them came back to Morrison full time in 2011.

Before than, he graduated in 1995 from Clinton (Iowa) High School, and served in the Coast Guard from 1997 to 2001. He took a few years to find himself before landing in law enforcement, Soenksen said.

He’s still mulling the idea of applying for the chief’s job, although having Melton in the office upstairs definitely would be a positive, he said Tuesday.

“It’s a big decision for me. I didn’t expect Chief to leave so soon.”

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Kathleen Schultz

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.