by Melissa Brunner
I had to ask when Marques White texted the news from the City Council meeting while we were on the air Tuesday night - is this the same person we knew from a long time ago?
Dan Stanley was selected as Topeka's interim city manager - just interim, no "interim-interim" required now. I got to know Stanley in his various capacities over the years, first as Secretary of Administration for former Gov. Bill Graves, then when he added the title of Topeka City Council Member, moving on to Assistant Secretary of Defense, finally reuniting with Graves at the American Trucking Assoc.
It's from that Pentagon job that I had my most memorable meeting with Stanley. He had been on the job only about a week when 9/11 happened. He recalls jumping back into his office as the wave of heat and jet fuel swept down the hallway. A few weeks later, we had the opportunity to travel to Washington and Stanley graciously agreed to let us visit with him at the Pentagon. Keep in mind the security atmosphere in those months after the attacks and you'll get an idea of how that was a big deal. A member of the Army public affairs staff greeted us and escorted us through the hallways. The walls were covered with banners from schools across the country, children expressing their sympathies and their support. Stanley's office had file folders and boxes covered with black soot. He walked us through the halls, showing us the large piece of plywood that covered the spot where the nose of the plane came to a stop after punching into yet another ring of the building. After meeting with Stanley, our Army escort took us to a ridge that looked onto the area where heavy equipment was clawing further into the side of the building, removing the mangled mess. He sat looking into the distance as he recalled that day and how everyone sprang into action, helping whoever they could.
I went back into our archives to share again the resulting story we aired. It reflects a point in our nation's history and it also reflects Stanley's commitment to public service, a commitment he's bringing back to Topeka. He says it's too early to say whether he'll apply to keep the city manager's job permanently, but, in the interim, we wish him the best of luck.