His first job? Busing tables at a restaurant, then there was a stint spent helping deliver cases of Dr. Pepper. After getting into the engineering field nearly 40 years ago, Larry Mangan, Wellington City Engineer, is retiring.
"I came to Wellington from Wilson and Company, a consulting firm in Salina, I started in March of '94 here," Mangan said. "I worked for Wilson for about four years." Before his time at the firm, for five years he was the City Engineer for Liberal, Kan. He took that job after being the Assistant City Engineer in Liberty, Missouri for six years. His career started after he got out of the United States Army, when he went to work for the Kansas Department of Transportation.
"Before I went into the army, I studied engineering at the Univeristy of Missouri at Raligh," Mangan explained. "When I got out [of the Army], I went to KDOT which had a training program which was kind of nice...you kind of figure out yourself what you like, what you don't like. I ended up in consulting services." It was in Liberty that Mangan discovered his true passion– working with city governments where there's never a dull moment.
"It's true, and I like that, reacting to whatever walks in the door," he laughed. The roll of a city engineer is to make sure big operations run smoothly and provide assistance when needed.
"That's the main thing I do, is oversee all the projects the City has either under construction, or being designed," Mangan said. He is in charge of the Building Inspection, Code Enforcement, and Planning and Zoning departments. He also helps advise other City departments with technical issues.
"Obviously his expirence will certainly be missed, as well as his expertise," said Wellington City Manager, Gus Collins. "What's interesting about what Mr. Mangun means to the City of Wellington, he is a value to all departments." Mangan has been in Wellington for a number of large projects.
"When I first came here, we were building the water treatment plant," he said. "Then we did the overpass, that was another big project, we've done several." The most interesting?
"We did the downtown renovation project around 2000, and that was an interesting project because...you just didn't know what you were getting yourself into down there, it's so old," Mangan recalled. It was during this project that the rumor of old, underground tunnels was dispelled.
"Everybody kept saying there were tunnels all over the place downtown, we didn't find that to be true," Mangan said. "We found some basement openings in the Stewart building, there was one at Security State Bank, and then over there at The Gold Corner, but we didn't find any tunnels." He said if there were any tunnels long ago, they have since been boarded up.
Page 2 of 2 - "We didn't find them with that project." he added. "You can't find them anymore." The next big project for the City is renovations to Vandeburg Avenue.
"Vandenburg is in the Dec. 19 KDOT letting, so they'll open bids on the ninetieth and select a contractor," Mangan explaiend. "It probably won't start until next Spring." As or who will hold Mangan's post at that time, the City is exploring several ideas.
"I'm looking at options, and there are some available to the City as far as contracting for that service, a part-time situation, and/or filling it as it has been before with a professional engineer," Collins said. "Currently I am advertising in the midwest to see if there is any interest out there, at the same time I'm negotiating with a couple of firms for that same service." When Mangan is officially retired, he says he's not sure what he will be doing.
"I do want to try to keep busy and do something, just do something different, I don't know what it's going to be," he said. One thing is certain, Mangan's Tuesday nights have cleared up considerably.
"Gosh, I don't know what's on TV on Tuesday nights because I've never had any Tuesday nights between the City Council, and the Planning Commission," he chuckled. "So three out of the four Tuesday's of every month have been occupied for the last 18 years." There will be a come-and-go retirement reception for Mangan on Dec. 7 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., with a presentation planned for 3 p.m. at Wellington City Hall. A place where Mangan has spent the most amount of time through his career.
"My proudest accomplishment here is probably the trust that I've built up over the past 18 years with the various City Council's and the people I've worked with, that's the most important thing," he said. "Projects come, projects go, but it's the trust that's the main thing...that feels good."