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Resilience manager resigns

City investigates replacement options

Zakian, John

Minot’s resilience program manager has submitted his resignation, effective at the end of September.

John Zakian, who assumed the position in June 2017, has been engaged in overseeing the City of Minot’s National Disaster Resilience (NDR) Program and other Community Development Block Grants through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Minot had been awarded $74.3 million in the NDR Program grant competition in early 2016.

Zakian plans to retire to his home in New Bedford, Massachusetts, although he said he expects to continue to work in a consulting capacity for various organizations. His decision to leave Minot was based on a desire for a slower pace.

“I have just reached the point where, at my age, it’s becoming too much,” said Zakian, 71.

“I really have enjoyed being here,” he added. “I think I have contributed a lot to making the city better for the future. I have tried to help them steer through all the sets of rules and regulations. It’s just reached a point where I can’t do it anymore.”

Zakian said he may continue into October if needed to provide technical support to existing staff a while longer.

City Manager Harold Stewart said in a memo to the city council that staff members are developing a contract to retain Zakian as a technical consultant for a period of time to assist with the transition and ensure compliance with Housing and Urban Development and National Disaster Resilience policies and processes. He noted the city also is working to develop options for continued staffing as it will be difficult to hire a replacement with only 18 months of funding remaining for the majority of the projects.

In addition to Zakian, the resilience office has two staff members. The city’s finance office also has experience with the NDR and CDBG programs. Zakian said he believes existing staff are capable of carrying on the work.

“I am going to leave confident that we are still on track to fully spend the money by Sept. 30, 2023,” he said of the grant deadline. “We are in good shape.”

“We were fortunate to have somebody like Mr. Zakian for as long as we did, given his vast understanding and knowledge of federal rules and guidelines,” Mayor Shaun Sipma said. “Certainly we will be looking for a replacement in a capacity yet to be determined.”

He agreed the city is on track with its resilience projects to meet a deadline still two years away.

The resilience program has included ongoing projects such as flood protection buyouts, Resilient Homebuyer Program, a new city hall, a family homeless shelter, a career and technical education center and affordable housing that includes Park South, Blu on Broadway and renovation at the Milton Young Towers.

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