Cohen said Palenick has an indefinite contract that is renewable annually. His new salary will be $160,000, and a raise to $165,000 is built in after his first year.
“I feel both honored and deeply humbled by the opportunity to be named city manager for Middletown,” Palenick said. “Everything that I have come to understand about the community and its leadership tells me that there exists a shared vision and cohesive commitment to continue to take the necessary steps to move Middletown forward in a proactive and positive way. I am excited about joining the leadership team, moving to the city and becoming a force in that effort.
“I eagerly welcome the leadership, expertise, accountability, and energy I believe Mr. Palenick will bring to Middletown,” said Middletown Mayor Nicole Condrey. “His past successes reflect his ability to bring groups together and serve as the catalyst to propel our city into the brighter future it deserves.”
Palenick will succeed former city manager Doug Adkins, who was terminated by Middletown City Council in December. Cohen has served as acting city manager since November and will return to her previous position as administrative services director when Palenick takes the reins.
Racine’s population was abut 78,000 in 2018. The manufacturing city is the seat of Racine County and is located on Lake Michigan about 22 miles south of Milwaukee. Racine is the fifth-largest city in Wisconsin, has more than 700 employees and has an overall budget of more than $205 million.
Palenick earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration and economics from Western Michigan University in 1981, graduating summa cum laude. He also earned a master’s degree in public administration, with honors, in 1987, also from Western Michigan University.
Last year, Palenick was a finalist for the city manager’s jobs in Columbia, Mo., and Panama Beach City, Fla., as well as the city/county manager in Broomfield, Colo.
Palenick has served in the following positions:
- Director of Economic & Business Development, city of Fayetteville, N.C., 2016-2017
- Town Manager, city of Dallas, N.C., 2012-2016
- City Manager, city of Gastonia, N.C., 2007-2011
- City Manager, city of Rio Rancho, N.M., 2003-2006
- City Manager, city of Bay City, Mich., 1996-2002
- City Manager, city of Dowagiac, Mich., 1992-1996
- Village Manager, village of Dexter, Mich., 1987-1992
Middletown City Managers
1956 to 2019
Charlie Thompson, March 1956-March 1964
Dan Kothe, June 1964-September 1970
Dale Helsel, October 1970-May 1985
William Burns, October 1985-January 1988
William Klosterman, July 1988-August 1992
Ron Olsen, November 1992-November 2004
William Becker, March 2005-March 2007
Judith Gilleland, January 2008-July 2014
Douglas Adkins, July 2014-Dec. 17, 2019.
James M. Palenick, July 13, 2020
SOURCE: city of Middletown