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Willmar Council hopes to hire Wyoming engineer for vacant Public Works director position

WILLMAR — The Willmar City Council’s Labor Relations Committee will ask the council tonight to hire Sean Christensen of Cody, Wyo., to fill Willmar’s vacant public works director/city engineer position.

Christensen has served as city engineer for the city of Powell, Wyo., since December 2000. He also has 4½ years of engineering experience working for private firms in Cody and in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Christensen was one of five candidates interviewed for the job by a five-member panel that included City Administrator Charlene Stevens who recommended Christensen to the Labor Committee.

Others on the interview panel were Planning and Development Director Bruce Peterson, Wastewater Facility Superintendent Colleen Thompson, former city public works director Mel Odens (now with the Minnesota Department of Transportation), and Labor Committee Chair Steve Ahmann.

Christensen’s start date would be March 13, 2014.

Stevens recommended an annual salary for Christensen of $91,924. Stevens also recommended Christensen be given a $5,000 relocation allowance, which Stevens said was reasonable.

She said the council approved a $3,000 relocation allowance for fire chief/fire marshal Gary Hendrickson. He moved here from Rockford, Minn., and began his duties as Willmar fire chief/fire marshal in January 2013.

The city has been without a public works director/city engineer since Sept. 14, 2012, when Holly Wilson resigned the position.

That month, the council contracted with the engineering firm of Bollig Inc. of Willmar to provide engineering and surveying services for 2013 street improvements.

Also, the council contracted with the firm of Bolton and Menk of Willmar to provide interim city engineer services until the city engineer position is filled.

Stevens did not move to fill the vacant public works director/city engineer position until after the council in later 2013 took no action on a study of the city’s organizational structure. Instead, the council kept the present structure, which included the public works director/city engineer position

In other business, the Labor Committee will recommend the council fill the full-time position of public works clerk-secretary after the position became vacant due to an internal promotion.

Also, the committee will recommend the council fill the vacant 30-hour-per-week position of fire department clerk-typist after the former employee made a career change.

Also on the council agenda will be a Community Development Committee recommendation to vacate a portion of Industrial Boulevard Southwest (former State Highway 40) in front of the Jennie-O Turkey Store to allow for a proposed company expansion project.

The council will also:

- Receive a report from the Finance Committee.

- Will receive recommendations on an organizational study of the Willmar Community Education and Recreation Department.

- Consider a text amendment to the zoning ordinance allowing brewer taprooms.

- Consider the final plat of Gesch Acres Second Addition, located at the corner of Fifth Street and 19th Avenue Southeast.

- Receive comments from the public during the open forum.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150