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City panel backs filling head Willmar, Minn., Public Works position

WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council Labor Relations Committee is recommending the council move forward with filling a soon-to-be-vacant Public Works superintendent position.

The committee discussed and voted to recommend the council fill the vacancy that will be created by the July 8 retirement of longtime superintendent Ron Gilbertson.

City Administrator Charlene Stevens said the public works superintendent is a front-line supervision position and is critical to operations in Public Works. Stevens said the position needs to be filled in order to assure a continuation of current service levels.

The salary range is $53,391 to $69,423 plus benefits. The position has been included in the 2013 budget, said Stevens.

Although the city is considering different alignments for Public Works, the superintendent position is necessary, Stevens said. The staff recommendation is to proceed now to advertise, interview and hire for the position.

If there is a gap between the time when Gilbertson is gone and a new superintendent is hired, the working foreman will be named interim supervisor.

"By moving forward now, hopefully there won't be very much of a gap between the vacancy and the new position,'' said Stevens.

She said Gilbertson will be missed very much by the city.

"He has dedicated his whole career to the city and has done a wonderful job for the city and we appreciate that and wish him well in his retirement. He will be missed,'' said Stevens.

Gilbertson said he will have worked 38 years and 8 months when he leaves. He started as a seasonal employee in 1970 and mowed lawns for five years before joining the city. In 1977 he was park superintendent. In 1993 the city combined the parks and the street departments and Gilbertson became the public works superintendent.

Gilbertson said the city has expanded considerably over the years. The number of parks has increased from probably 12 to 37 and the city has added ball fields, a stadium and a water park.

He said there is more demand on the department than ever but said the department has one fewer employees now than in 1987. The department currently has 21 employees that include two mechanics.

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