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'Move over, Marshal Dillon'

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Pending the outcome of some pro forma requirements, the Cowboy Capital of the World has hired itself a new city marshal - joining the ranks of other illustrious western towns, including Dodge City and Tombstone.

In a protracted executive session during a special meeting on Wednesday, March 21, Bandera City Council interviewed the last two men left standing after a lengthy winnowing process that effectively began on Oct. 1, 2011, new fiscal year. When the nearly two-hour closed session re-convened in open council, members unanimously approved veteran peace officer Kenneth Menn as the new city marshal. His effective start date will be the first of April.

A native of Helotes, Menn has 25 years experience in administrative law enforcement and holds an advanced and masters peace officer certification. "We wanted an officer with extensive law enforcement experience and that disqualified a lot of applicants," said Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Schumacher.

Menn came highly recommended, she said. Texas Ranger James Scoggins described him as "an honest man," and Menn used Ernie Lobello, former investigator for the 216th Judicial District and a Bandera County resident, as a reference.

In late September, city elected officials approved by a 3-2 margin budgetary cuts that effectively reduced the former five-man police force by three positions - chief, lieutenant and a patrol officer.

Later, Sgt. James Brantley resigned, leaving Officer Earl Heidelberg as the municipality's only law enforcement officer.

After advertising the marshal position, the city received 23 applications and, after an elimination process, a committee interviewed five applicants. As Schumacher explained, "Council reviewed every application and assigned each a numerical score. We interviewed the applicants with the top scores." Additionally, administrators with the Bandera County Sheriff's Office also reviewed all applications.

Schumacher went on to say that a candidate's personality was also important in the selection process.

"Unfortunately, that proved difficult because most applicants submitted just a one or two sentence cover letter followed by a list of employment and courses taken," Schumacher said. "The flavor of their personalities didn't come through so 'personality' was difficult to gauge until the interview process."

One thing that was definitely in Memm's favor was that he had served as the Balcones Heights City Marshal for over 21 years. In that capacity, Menn worked closely with the various city departments, including fire, public works, code compliance, municipal court and building and inspections, as well as with visitors and tourism directors.

"I was also very impressed that, as a supervisor with the San Antonio Parks Police, he had worked with business owners and tourists on Riverwalk," said Councilman Binky Archer. "That indicates to me that he has good people skills."

Equally as enthusiastic about Menn's selection was Councilman John Hegemier, who said, "I think he was the best man for the job and I was pleased to vote for him. It seemed he really wants to be a community policemen."

Menn, along with Deputy Marshal Heidelberg, will enforce city ordinances, and be helpful to the municipality's many tourists, but would definitely "not be used as a tour guide," Schumacher said.
There's been no word on what the city marshal's new uniform will be, but everyone's betting it won't include black high-topped boots and SWAT pants.
In other business, the special city council meeting began with an invocation - as usual.

Pictured: During a special meeting on Wednesday, March 21, Bandera City Council selected law enforcement veteran Kenneth Menn, center, as the town's new marshal. Those attending the session included, from left, Officer Earl Heidelberg; Councilman Nancy Montgomery; Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Schumacher; Menn; Mayor Horst Pallaske; Councilmen Binky Archer, John Hegemier and Brandi Morgan; and City Administrator Mike Cardenas.