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Willmar City Council OKs process to fill positions at police dept.

WILLMAR — The Willmar City Council has taken steps to fill three Police Department positions and to fill the Civic Center Arena manager’s position.

The council, during a 53-minute meeting Tuesday night, accepted the recommendation of the Labor Relations Committee to open the hiring process to fill the four positions.

One of the three police openings will occur when Chief David Wyffels retires May 31 after 35½ years in law enforcement.

In his report of the Feb. 12 Labor Committee meeting, Chair Steve Ahmann said it was necessary to open the hiring and testing process for the chief’s position. Candidates will be sought both from within the department and outside the department.

City Administrator Charlene Stevens told the committee that Wyffels will be greatly missed by the department and the city.

Wyffels began his law enforcement career in October 1978 with the Worthington Police Department and joined the Willmar Police Department on April 20, 1981. He first worked as a patrol officer, switched to investigations in March 1994 and was promoted to sergeant in May 1995. He was appointed captain in September 2000 and was named chief in July 2010.

In an interview, Wyffels thanked the public for allowing him to serve in law enforcement and trusting in his ability to serve the public fairly and responsibly.

“It’s a career choice that can be whatever you want it to be,’’ he told the Tribune. “If you seriously enjoy people, and you enjoy helping people and you work towards that effort, it’ll be an extremely rewarding career, and I’ve found it a very rewarding career.’’

According to the three-page job description, the police chief serves as department director with primary responsibility for administration and overseeing the city’s law enforcement activities.

The chief determines and assigns projects, establishes and reviews programs, and prepares and administers departmental budget, among other duties.

The council also voted to open the hiring process to fill a vacancy created by the upcoming retirement of Sgt. Julie Asmus on May 31 after serving nearly 30 years in Willmar and to fill the vacancy created by the Police Commission’s termination of patrol officer Marilee Dorn on Dec. 16, 2013.

Wyffels told the committee that each of the two positions would be filled by an entry-level police officer. He said the city has experienced the loss of at least one officer per year for the past 12 years. He said the current eligibility list had expired and creation of a new list would streamline the hiring process.

Wyffels said the advertising, testing and hiring process for patrol officer can take up to six months. He said filling the two positions would maintain the staffing level of 32 sworn officers.

The fourth position to be filled will be arena manager being vacated by Kevin Madsen who is retiring effective June 1 after 27 years with the city. Ahmann reported the position is critical to Civic Center operations and he recommended the vacancy be posted and filled as soon as possible.

Stevens told the committee that Madsen would be difficult to replace. She said the position would be marketed through the Arena Managers Association, the Minnesota Parks and Recreation Association, and routine advertising.

The three-page job description says the arena manager performs supervisory specialized and professional work with primary responsibility to manage arena and Blue Line Center operations.

The manager coordinates facility use with a wide variety of groups, responds to equipment and mechanical needs, supervises and trains employees, prepares and monitors budget, and performs marketing and advertising activities.

In an interview, Madsen noted many upgrades have been made to the arena, which began operation in 1980, such as locker room additions and floor replacement for the refrigeration system.

He was involved in coordinating construction of the adjacent Blue Line Center in 1998 and connecting the center and arena in 2007.

“The people have really, really accepted that as a nice design that’s worked for everybody,’’ he said.

After retiring, Madsen will continue his obligation and mission with the United States Curling Association.

“That’s kind of my sideline passion is ice-making for curlers, starting curling clubs around the country and showing them how to get them started, using the ice that they have,’’ he said. “I’ll be traveling a lot, doing that, and I enjoy that.’’

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