Denison City Hall

The City of Denison will start advertising next week for two public works employees, one to serve as a working foreman (Maintenance Worker IV) and the other at the starting position of Maintenance Worker I.

The new employees will fill vacancies created by recent retirements from the public works department.

Mike Fineran, who started with the public works department in July 1991, had his last day at work on May 13.

Today is the last day at work for Street Commissioner Dave Nemitz, who has been employed by the department for nearly 44 years.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Mayor Pam Soseman thanked Nemitz for his years of service.

“You will be remembered for all the things you have done for our community, and we want to wish you a happy retirement,” she said.

The public works department will face other retirements this year. Public Works Director Doug Wiebers said he plans to retire by December this year, and at Tuesday’s meeting he mentioned that another public works employee may be leaving.

At its May 5 meeting, the council had decided to advertise for the Maintenance Worker IV position beginning on June 2 but agreed on Tuesday that advertising for the two positions earlier will allow the time for training with Wiebers and the other possible retiree, and for the new hires to be ready before snow-removal season begins.

Crawford told the council on Tuesday that Wiebers is a little concerned that at the end of this week, when Nemitz works his last day, the department will be down to six workers and one supervisor.

Councilman Corey Curnyn said he spoke with Wiebers as the public works department cut down a tree this week, and described it as a well-oiled machine, with each person well aware of their job.

Looking ahead to replacing staff, Curnyn added, “The part that is going to be the trickiest is to get someone who has a CDL (commercial driver’s license) or get the time to get a CDL, and all of a sudden its winter. If we don’t have a person in place or have someone who has never been behind a snowplow, it’s something you just don’t start doing.”

Wiebers had much the same comment later in the discussion when he said a succession plan needs to be put in place.

“It worked out great the last time we hired someone. The last guy that replaced somebody who retired, we had him hired two weeks before or maybe more, and he got some time in that vehicle with the guy (employee that was retiring),” Wiebers explained. “We don’t have that now. One guy is already gone and one (Nemitz) is leaving Friday. Dave’s (Nemitz’s) route was uptown, and so we have to figure out how to get that done. It’s not just jumping into the truck, putting the blade down and driving.”

He alluded to all the other jobs and details that require training.

Wiebers also said that he is not going to be on the job all the time until his retirement date. He said he is trying to use up vacation time and the department needs someone in place to supervise when he’s not at work.

He also offered the possibility to move one of the existing public works employees up to Maintenance Worker IV and hire another Maintenance Worker I.

Wiebers said public works has advance a Worker I to Worker II, and a Worker II to Worker III, but it’s never advanced someone to from Worker III to Worker IV because the department has always had two supervisors as long as he and Nemitz have been working.

The council, however, said that the application should be open, out of fairness, and the current employees would have to apply for the Worker IV job.

If a current employee is selected for the supervisory job, then the city would hire two people at Maintenance Worker I.

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