New wastewater plant operator excited to work at Chatfield facility

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS Steven Schlichter is the new wastewater treatment plant operator in Chatfield.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Steven Schlichter officially joined the Chatfield city crew as wastewater treatment plant operator on Sept. 23, and the experienced operator is looking forward to working in the Chatfield plant because, he noted, the city has kept it running in tiptop shape. 

“I’m excited to run a new facility.  With my maintenance background, I’m very excited to keep the maintenance up on this facility and keep it in as nice condition as possible,” he said. ”There’s a learning aspect to it, but it’s always fun for me.  There’s a learning curve to everything, and every plant is different, but it’s neat to see the differences between facilities.  I enjoy learning new things and new plants and getting to know the people in this town – everything I’ve heard has been good about this town.  It’s very proactive about things.  This is an up-to-date facility.”

Schlichter originally went to college for industrial maintenance mechanics, but he first worked at Hormel in Austin for six years, seven days a week in maintenance. 

“Me and my wife had gotten married and were expecting our first child, and we were not feeling like working seven days a week anymore,” explained Schlichter, “so when the city of Austin’s job came up, I resigned from Hormel, and it worked out nicely.”

He went from there to Preston’s Public Works Department as its plant operator. In starting with the city of Austin’s wastewater treatment facility, he gained a lot of experience, knowledge and licenses. He eventually became the city of Austin’s lead machinist and operator. However, he decided to move back to the area where he grew up to take the position in Preston.

“The reason we moved down to this area is that I grew up always going to the Old Barn, and we’d go trout fishing and deer hunting,” he said. “We love this whole area, so I jumped at the opportunity to take the job in Preston, and when I did get it, it was a great experience to learn how to run that plant.” 

Most recently, Schlichter replaced Chatfield longtime operator Chris Daniels, who resigned from the position in early August.  The Chatfield City Council welcomed the new operator during a recent council meeting.    

Off the clock, Schlichter keeps busy with his family, playing outdoors.  He and his wife have a daughter, 11, and a son, 7. Both are in Just for Kix at Fillmore Central while his wife is also assistant coach at Just for Kix. 

“The whole family enjoys spending time outdoors – we like biking, hunting, Rollerblading, fishing.  That’s kind of what drew us to southeast Minnesota,” he said. “My wife and I are both on the fire department in Preston and are EMTs also.”