After nearly two weeks of speculation among city residents and employees, Perryville city administrator Brent Buerck confirmed Tuesday that Public Works director Mark Brown has resigned.
“Mark has resigned from the city of Perryville, effective [Wednesday],” Buerck told the Republic-Monitor. “We wish him good luck, obviously.”
Brown has served as the city’s Public Works director for more than six years, managing all aspects of the city’s infrastructure, including the airport, gas, refuse, sewer, streets, waste water treatment plant, water system and water treatment plant.
Perryville Mayor Ken Baer declined to comment on Brown’s resignation, saying any comment would be “inappropriate at this time.”
Most of the city’s aldermen echoed the mayor’s response, declining comment, and in one instance, referring questions to city attorney Thomas Ludwig.
Brown, who was out of town on Tuesday, also declined to immediately comment on the resignation.
Brown, who was hired by the city in July of 2013, was in attendance at the city’s Board of Aldermen meeting on Aug. 6, but has not been in his office at Public Works since then and phone calls there were redirected. Since that time, a keypad lock was installed on the exterior door to the Public Works office and a sign informed customers to call ahead and make an appointment.
Multiple sources who wished to remain unidentified told the Republic-Monitor this week that city officials had informed Public Works employees that Brown was on suspension.
In April, Brown, 58, was charged with misdemeanor terroristic threatening after saying, “I’m going to take a gun to those sons of b*****,” during a telephone conversation about medical insurance with an operator at a Florida call center.
It was unclear if that charge is related to Brown’s resignation, but he was suspended for a week following the arrest. A trial date in the case has been set for Sept. 17 in Perry County Associate Circuit Court.
During Brown’s tenure, the city laid plans for a new waste water treatment plant and engaged in numerous projects to upgrade city water and sewer systems, as well as beginning the transition to natural gas-powered vehicles, including new refuse trucks that cut down on manpower and utilize routing software to make trash pickup more efficient.
In addition to a bi-monthly newsletter intended to keep city residents updated on public works projects, Brown also started an annual awards banquet for the Public Works department along with a Legends Hall of Fame, intended to honor past public works employees who made a notable impact on the city.
Each year, Brown opened the banquet with a familiar speech: “Streets. Refuse. Water. Sewer. Natural Gas. Maintenance. We make the water, distribute it and then treat it when our customer is done with it. We keep the streets safe and clean. We dispose of the items you do not want, in a safe and environmentally friendly way. Natural gas is the cleanest burning of all the fossil fuels and it is the cheapest for our customers.”
Past Legends Hall of Fame inductees included Howard Blair and Terry King in 2014, Harold Schubert and Melvin Weber in 2015, Ronald W. Berkbuegler and Melvin D. Niswonger in 2016, brothers Wayne and Lowell Walker in 2017, and John Heck Jr. and former Perryville Mayor Henry F. Weiss in 2018.
In conjunction with the banquet and hall of fame, Brown also helped set up the Mel Niswonger Legends Scholarship. The scholarship, funded by an endowment from the Melvin Niswonger family, is awarded each year to a Perry County student for college assistance.