Police Chief Brigit Clary says she’s retiring. Parks and Facilities Director Laura Hester had more to say about her departure., 

But Public Works Director Pete Rogalski, had no comment regarding an announcement on the city’s website in July seeking applications for his job.

Hester in a hurry

The most abrupt departure came from Hester, who seemed to vanish overnight after less than a year on the job. Hester told the Tri-City Herald that she had problems working with Deputy City Manager Joe Schiessl.

In a statement emailed to the Observer, Hester thanked the city council and city staff, including Schiessl.

“I am grateful for my tenure as the Parks and Public Facilities Director in Richland. It was indeed a pleasure working alongside the dedicated and talented employees, contributing to the remarkable efforts they put in for the citizens of Richland. I thank Jon Amundson, Joe Schiessl, and the Richland City Council for the opportunity. I wish everyone the very best. As I move on to the next opportunity, I will always think highly of my time spent with the wonderful people of Richland.”

As the Observer reported in November, Hester had been the parks director in Sahuarita, Arizona, and had years of experience in a variety of park management roles including running a cemetery in Kaysville, Utah. 

She told the Observer in a telephone interview that her family had sold their home in Arizona, and rented one in Richland. She noted that her parents and sister lived in nearby Hermiston, Oregon.

The city paid $12,000 to move Hester from Arizona.

Clary clear about retiring

After Police Chief Brigit Clary announced in September that she would leave in January, she adamantly told the Observer before a city council meeting that she was not “leaving,” she was “retiring.”  She said that she was looking forward to spending more time with her family.

As a Washington police officer of 25 years, Clary became eligible for full retirement benefits when she reached age 53.

Clary joined RPD in 2017 and became chief at the beginning of 2022 after her predecessor, John Bruce, resigned with three days’ notice after less than three years on the job.

Clary recently announced that RPD had signed on to the 30 by 30 Initiative that is dedicated to increasing the number of women in police recruit classes to 30 percent by 2030.

Rogalski really isn’t talking

Neither Rogalski nor City Manager Jon Amundson would comment about the job opportunity advertisement for a new public works director when it appeared on the city’s website in July

The ad gave August 10 as the deadline to respond and appears to have been removed.

Rogalsky, who graduated from UCLA in 1984, has been with the city for about 30 years and public works director since 2004, according to LinkedIn and Tri-City Herald archived issues.

Most recently Rogalsky has been working on a project to make George Washington Way and Jadwin Avenue one way in the downtown area. Rogalsky has aggressively lobbied the state for more funding for the city’s transportation projects, particularly for improvements to the Aaron Drive / Highway 240 intersection.

The Observer asked Amundson in an email for an update on the search for a new public works director and Deputy City Manager Joe Schiessl responded, “The City continues to evaluate candidates for the position.”