Council addresses WWTP personnel issues

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The Spring Valley City Council met on Monday, April 23, with the eyes of councilors focused squarely on the city's wastewater treatment plant (WWTP).

“The council held a closed meeting on April 12 to conduct employee reviews for two probational employees, Luverne Maier (WWTP director) and Shane Johnson (WWTP assistant),” Mayor Jim Struzyk reported. “The reviews were conducted by the council and had the following findings — Luverne Maier did not meet the licensing required to perform the job and Shane Johnson did not fit into the culture of the workplace. Both were released from their duties.”

The city has hired Bolton and Menk to assist with the WWTP duties, though the company cannot guarantee it will continue to have a licensed operator available.

Maintenance supervisor Chad Hindt has also taken over some of the WWTP operational duties.

“Aaron Hamersma used to work at the waste water treatment plant and Chad (Hindt) talked with him when he was out helping to show how to work the plant. He would be willing to come work for us; he is a B licensed operator, so he already has all the licensing we need and he's already run our plant before,” city administrator Deb Zimmer shared.

If hired, Hamersma has asked that he get credit for his 15 years of experience, which, per the city's pay scale, would add an additional $6 per hour.

“It is turn-key if he shows up,” Hindt said. “He already knows how to run the plant.”

Council member Jessy Betts stated he would like to see the WWTP department blended into the street department, so there would only be one department head, which could potentially save the city money.

According to Zimmer, the issue with this is it is difficult to find a licensed B operator and it would take a considerable amount of time to have a current employee become licensed.

“We advertised for it before and never really got anyone who was licensed or qualified, but if this guy comes in he already has the license we need,” Struzyk commented.

Council member Mike Hadland noted he would like to add a contingency where Hamersma would have to help with street cleanup in the winter season.

A motion to hire Hamersma with a stipulation that he has to assist the street department when needed was approved with Betts opposed.

A second motion to offer the assistant position to Cameron Fenton, who has already been through the interview process. The motion was approved.

According to Zimmer, contacted Monday, both Hamersma and Fenton accepted the positions later that week.

The council then discussed the purchase of a blower for the plant.

“We're pretty tight on blowers. If one of ours goes, we're in trouble,” Zimmer said.

According to Hindt, there are currently two blowers, though there are supposed to be six in operation.

The council approved the purchase at the cost of $13,617.

Department reports

Library director Jenny Simon told the council they are gearing up for the summer reading program. She has also been searching for a company to repair the outside of the building.

Simon shared the library's conference room has been getting lots of use from outside groups.

Though they have been busy with the extra WWTP duties, Hindt shared the street department has swept the streets, made repairs to the city truck and cleaned up after the late snow storms.

The streets will need to be swept again, and, according to Hindt, once that is complete they will be able to begin filling potholes.

Ambulance co-director Sue Puffer reported another busy month with an average of just over one call per day.

Puffer announced they have had an EMT student pass the testing and has begun orientation.

The annual ambulance service's pancake breakfast will be held on May 20 in recognition of EMS Week.

The Spring Valley Fire Department has had a quiet month with one fire call and several ambulance assists, according to Fire Chief Troy Lange.

Other business

• Dwight Moldenhauer approached the council to determine if he needed a conditional use permit for his lawn care business. Initially, the city believed Moldenholder was running a small engine repair business on his property, but he stated he has closed that business and only does lawn care, which does not require a permit.

• The city has requested bids for the purchase and moving of the tourist center until Thursday, May 3.

• The council approved the possible transfer of a Small Cities Block Grant loan from property owner Dave Phillips to Jenn Slifka, who may potentially purchase the North Broadway Avenue building.

• The council approved the appointment of Dave Foster to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

• Spring Valley city-wide cleanup will be held on Saturday, May 12.

• The next meeting will be held on Monday, May14, at 6 p.m.