Council approves hiring additional wastewater employee
The City of Red Oak is proceeding with a search for a fourth wastewater facility employee.
At the regular city council meeting March 6, the council discussed an advertisement for the position and a schedule of posting. The job posting indicated a search for a Grade I operator, but was not required. Council member Brian Bills asked what the Grade I specification meant. City administrator Al Vacanti explained that it was based on levels of certification.
“A Grade I is a base level of certification. Operators start at Grade I, and with experience and additional testing they can progress to a Grade II, and then ultimately a Grade III,” Vacanti explained. “This is just a base posting. A Grade I operator would be wonderful, a Grade II would be spectacular, and if we were to hire a Grade III, that would be beyond expectations. We could also get an applicant that may not even come in with a Grade I, but would be willing to partake in the grading and testing to progress up that ladder of certification and expertise.”
Once the Grade I is achieved, Vacanti said there was still additional experience that had to be gained, and they were required to maintain their education. Currently, the city has a Grade III operator, a Grade II operator, and a Grade I operator.
Reviews for the applicants are scheduled beginning May 1. Vacanti said there was a lot of competition for wastewater treatment plant operators on employment boards.
“Some communities have operators that have been with their cities for 10, 20, or even 30 years and longer that are getting into retirement age. I don’t want to use the word crisis, but it’s a challenge for communities to get operators that will step up. A person starting off can achieve grade III certification in three to five years,” commented Vacanti.
Vacanti stressed that the position was one of the largest responsibilities among the city’s employees.
“Being a water or wastewater operator are two of the most important positions in the city, regardless of who you are. If the water isn’t clean when they drink it, something bad could happen, and if the stuff you try to get rid of in the water doesn’t go away, something bad can happen there as well,” commented Vacanti.
The council approved the advertisement for the wastewater operator and the advertising schedule.
The council also approved an animal services agreement with the City of Red Oak and Animal Alliance Rescue. Mayor Shawnna Silvius said the agreement would allow for the pick up of animals after hours, and two cages would be retained at the shelter for animals picked up for the city.
“Bill Dietering will still be the code enforcement officer on all of this, so there’s any specific needs, he will do that. They will maintain records for five years, and I feel we have a good relationship with them,” commented Silvius.
Tim Fridolph abstained, citing a close working relationship with the organization.
Last item for discussion was the disposal of property at 1210 N. 4th St. to Nishna Productions. Silvius said Nishna Productions was seeking additional residences for tenants from the Glenwood Resource Center.
“Nishna Productions has been working with three cities for a number of years to identify housing that could accommodate potential tenants. The property was identified by prior administrator Brad Wright. They have applied for a loan to have three homes in three different communities, including Red Oak. They have made an offer to us to cover legal fees and half of the demolition cost of the house,” Silvius said.
The council approved the disposal of the property to Nishna Productions. A public hearing regarding the disposal of the real estate was scheduled for the April 3 regular council meeting.
In other business, the council:
• Approved a proposal from ROI Energy and MidAmerican Energy to upgrade lighting to LED at the airport, library, and pool facilities, at a fixed price of $39,705, with $20,528 in incentives paid from MidAmerican Energy to ROI, and the city’s cost being $19,177.
• Approved a request from the Montgomery County Veterans Memorial Court of Honor for street closures on Memorial Day, May 29. Closures are for Inman Drive from the east drive to Inman Elementary, west to 8th Street, and 8th Street from the south drive to Inman Elementary, north to Sunset Avenue from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• Heard a request from Mark Vannausdle about removing the no parking restrictions on both sides of Boundary Street. The council took no action on the request.
• Approved a Class B retail alcohol license for HyVee.
• Approved a Special Class B native wine license for Pudgy Pumpkin Patch Gift Shop.