05-31-2018 Watervliet City Commission works on filling vacancies; hires clerk candidate as temporary

HONORED FOR DEDICATION… Debbie Hall of Watervliet received the Volunteer of the Year award from the Watervliet Pageant Organization on May 23, 2018. Debbie Hall has been involved with the WPO for years and her dedication to both the young adults and the program itself deserved recognition. Watervliet Pageant Organization is a group of volunteers that are responsible for the planning and hosting of the Miss Watervliet contest and related activities throughout the year.

Watervliet City Commission works on filling vacancies; hires clerk candidate as temporary office help

By Annette Christie The Watervliet City Commission held a special meeting on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 to discuss some items of a timely nature and at the top of the list was getting some help in the office. Clerk Dena Yow left her full-time city employment mid-May, leaving the other office employee, Melanie Marvin to continue her job duties as well as doing what she could of the clerk’s position. Actually, it was Marvin who filled in at this meeting taking the minutes. Mayor Dave Brinker told the Commission, “This is most important at this time. We need to consider some part-time help in the office to help Melanie.” While no one seemed to disagree that immediate help was necessary, they differed on how the temporary hire would be selected. Commissioner Deah Muth commented, “Melanie does need help in the office. She comes in early, takes stuff home. I would think the Personnel Committee could handle this also.” City Manager Michael Uskiewicz said that he has interviewed two people and one could come in and assist right away in the office. “You could hire them as a temporary office assistant while we make a decision on the clerk position,” Commissioner Luke Strunk stated that the City Manager could work on hiring a clerk. Marvin noted that either one of the candidates, both who are local residents, would have to become clerk certified. “We have an election coming up in August,” Marvin said, adding, “I have no desire to be the clerk.” With the posting being open through June 1, the city will be accepting applications through that date. Commissioner Duane Cobb said, “We need help now.” Commissioner Larry Hehl felt that the need was there for someone in the office as soon as possible but suggested a temp service be used or maybe someone would lend the city a person to help in the office. He said that he thought a probation period would be good as well. Some discussion was held about having the City Manager choose a person for the office. Marvin said she felt completely comfortable with Michael (City Manager) making that decision and noted that she had provided her input on the decision. With the consensus of the City Commission the City Manager was authorized to move forward to put someone in the office on a temporary basis. With the city manager position also coming open soon due to Uskiewicz retiring, the City Commission also discussed filling that position. Commissioner Muth stated that she went through the resumes for city manager and said that the city had some good candidates. “I would like to set up interviews starting next week. Michael said he would help train someone and transition someone over. I feel we should get going on the city manager,” Muth said. Commissioner Cobb agreed, “I would like to see a replacement for Michael as soon as possible, full-time.” Commissioner Bill Whitney Jr. said he was in favor of filling the city manager position as long as there were good candidates. Commissioner Larry Hehl was the opposite. “I really would not want to rush into hiring a city manager, we should review a lot of candidates, have multiple meetings where we sit down and get another good fit, with someone who might want to stay for a long time,” Hehl said. He added that he would like to structure the criteria differently than they have done in the past. He would like to see them select someone who is not looking to make that next jump, someone with 25, 30 years under their belt. Commissioner Strunk stated, “We need a city manager now, we don’t need to mill it over, that sends the wrong message. I don’t think we should drag it out. We need to be unified. We need to be together on this to keep the forward motion we have and keep it going.” Muth added, “Well said.” After all commissioners were done giving their comments, Mayor Brinker agreed with Hehl that he didn’t want to see it pushed through and said that he wanted someone with a heavy financial background. Through more conversation the City Commission agreed to have the Personnel Committee work with the City Manager to select the top three candidates for the full Commission to interview. Commissioner Cobb asked Uskiewicz if that plan sounded good to him and he said it did. Other business In other business, Mayor Brinker said he was asked by the Berrien County Parks Director if the City of Watervliet would consider mowing the property that will become Paw Paw River County Park later this summer. The county park is currently under construction and is slated for completion in August. The motion was put on the table and passed but not unanimously. Commissioners Muth, Strunk, and Rick Kinzler voted no. The next City Commission is scheduled for Tuesday, June 12 at 6:30 p.m. Temporary hire Uskiewicz made contact with and secured the temporary office assistant. Christa Townsend began at City Hall on Tuesday. The posting for the clerk position closes on June 1.

Candidate’s breakfast, June 20

The public is invited to attend a candidate’s breakfast at Pebblewood Restaurant, 9794 Jericho Rd. in Bridgman on Wednesday, June 20, at 8:00 a.m. The breakfast is hosted by the Berrien County Republican Women’s Club. All Berrien County Republican candidates who are running at the county level and above are being invited to attend and those who have contested races will be given time to speak. All others will be introduced.

Coloma American Legion Auxiliary holding sale this weekend to benefit veterans