City Appoints Interim Public Works Director

By Lukas Eggen Ely Times Staff Writer

The Ely City Council voted unanimously to appoint Ron Jenkins as the interim Public Works Director during a special meeting last Thursday. The appointment comes after the council’s decision to look internally for a permanent director in the future.

“We need somebody to lead the charge temporarily until we find a permanent public works director,” Councilman Bruce Setterstrom said.

Councilman Sam Hanson said in the research he’s done as part of the Reorganization Committee, a public works director is fairly common among cities similar in size. The committee will be looking at job descriptions for certain positions including the public works director, but doesn’t feel the interim appointment will impede them in any way.

“It does seem to be a fairly standardized practice in municipalities our size,” Hanson said. “Whatever the committee recommends to this body is something the body can act upon. But I don’t see it impeding the work that we’re doing and what we’re trying to accomplish with the reorganization committee.”

The city council did not appoint an interim City Clerk because of a lack of candidates. That fact made it more imperative to appoint Jenkins as Public Works Director, City Councilman Marty Westland said.

“This is only an interim position until we can make a final decision, which we’ll certainly have to consider the recommendations of the reorganization committee,” Westland said. “In the meantime, we need some leadership for our employees in the absence of a city clerk.”

The city council also approved advertising for the City Clerk position in various newspapers.

“This is something we need to get going,” Setterstrom said. “This was the main purpose of the meeting to appoint an interim public works director and to advertise for a city clerk.”

Council members said they wanted to target recent college graduates if possible with the related degrees required. Councilman Hanson said targeting recent college graduates can provide numerous advantages for the City going forward.

“There is a career path that professional public administrators pursue,” Hanson said. “And it’s said to be desirable to get someone for approximately five, six, seven years starting out on their career because: A. You don’t have to pay them as much because they’re in the beginning; and B. They want to do the best job possible to be able to establish their credentials so they can then move to a larger community and more prosperous position, presumably and you get someone else coming in there so you don’t have the problem of entrenchment.”

While Hanson said he wouldn’t have a problem if someone wanted to stay long-term and they were doing a good job, bringing in new people every so often can be good to help the city running smoothly.

“Although I personally don’t have an issue if somebody wants to come in and they’re doing a good job, they want to stay, they like the community and everybody’s happy, but that usually isn’t the case but you keep bringing in new blood continually that has different eyes, look at things differently, find better and new ways to do things and whose current on the practice of public administration who is up to date on the various laws and codes, especially opportunities that exist on the public administration rules and be able to come in and use that skillset and develop here and work on training additional people to eventually take over.”

The closing date will be Aug. 15 for applications. Mayor Jon Hickman will then appoint a candidate for the job, who must then be approved by the City Council.

“This could go either way,” Councilman Randy Lee said. “We could have three or we could be inundated with these things. I’m thinking more like the second. A lot of people are looking for work right now.”

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