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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Peshtigo Is Formally Seeking Parks And Recreation Director

Issue Date: August 22, 2019

At a special meeting on Monday, Aug. 19, Peshtigo City Council agreed to start advertising on Wednesday, Aug. 21 for someone to fill the position held by David Zahn since July 15, 2013. Application deadline is 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 9.

They discussed job duties, details on questions to be asked of applicants, and education and experience that will be expected or required. They agreed that pay will be negotiated depending on experience and qualifications of the person hired.

Zahn was discharged by Mayor Cathi Malke on Friday, Aug. 2 on recommendation of the Parks and Recreation and Personnel committees at meetings on Wednesday, July 31 and Friday, Aug. 2. Both meetings included closed session discussion and reference in open session to poor job performance, numerous written reprimands, and failing to complete projects. In addition to other items, Malke and others were upset over lack of publicity and planning for this year's Christmas in July event at Badger Park, which led to extremely poor participation.

Present for the 1:30 p.m. special Council meeting on Aug. 19 were Malke and alderpersons Brigitte Schmidt, Jillian Schutte, Michael Behnke and Debbie Sievert.

Referring to the ad used when seeking to fill the position six years ago, they agreed that residency within the city will no longer be required. Clerk Tammy Kasal pointed out that a state law passed after the position was filled last time prevents residency requirements except for emergency personnel, such as police officers. Malke noted that even they must be allowed to live within 15 miles of the city "as the crow flies."

Sievert wondered if they should put more detail in the job requirements, for example specify that experience is required. Behnke suggested they should stress strong management and organizational skills.

Schmidt suggested they should require supervisory experience

"You can go to school for that," Schutte felt.

"That's a big position to step into without experience," Schmidt maintained.

"I see it differently," Schutte declared. "I agree experience is better, but in today's world they teach all that in business school."

Schutte mentioned several times that there is a "personality analysis" tool available on-line and suggested they could use that in the interview process to get a personality profile.

Schmidt suggested they set up a list of questions that applicants will be asked to answer in writing and submit along with their resumes and job applications, and that route was approved by the remainder of the committee. Schmidt commented this will give an insight into how well they can express themselves in writing as well as an opportunity to present well-thought-out answers that might not come out during the pressure of an interview in front of the whole committee.

Schutte suggested giving them an event to plan and then write a press release. Schmidt felt that was a good idea, but suggested having them create an event and then describe how to plan, publicize, pay for it, and carry it out, start to finish. She suggested having them write out a plan for a youth or adult recreational program, and also for a campground event.

During the discussion, Behnke commented it is hard to find someone who is perfect in every single thing. Schmidt had mentioned need to be able to work with children. Others had talked about the maintenance side of responsibilities. Behnke mentioned financial management, productivity and communication skills.

They settled on having six questions to answer in writing, and two written plans for events as described by Schmidt.

"This job is so broad in terms of what is needed, Schmidt commented late in the discussion. She noted on one hand they need someone good with kids, communication and event planning, but on the other hand that person is responsible for maintenance of parks buildings and grounds, so would need knowledge and ability there also. She wondered if they should consider splitting the job.

"Part of the job is knowing how to delegate," Malke commented. She said if you need plumbing done you call in a plumber.

Schmidt again suggested they might have an easier time hiring someone if they did not also require someone who can do the mechanical parts of the job, for example maintaining lawns and planters, preparing ball fields, painting, plumbing, etc. She felt perhaps the Department of Public Works could be responsible for cutting grass, fixing things in the bath rooms, caring for trees and planters, etc.

Behnke said they could put the Director of Public Works in charge, "but then we'd have to deal with the fact that these are all Teamsters....I know we have Act 10 now, but they can still butt heads."

Schutte felt they should be able to find someone who can do it all. Schmidt again wondered if they could find perhaps someone who is ready to retire, who would run the campground and run the summer programs and events, and someone else to do the physical maintenance.

They took no action on that suggestion.

Behnke wondered if there was a list of seasonal tasks that need to be done for the Parks and Rec program, and when they need to be done. It appears there is none, and Behnke suggested getting one developed should be a priority.

Decision was finally made to post the position on-line and advertise in local publications including the Peshtigo Times, starting on Wednesday, Aug. 21, with all completed applications to be received before 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 9.

The only other business at the Special Council meeting was approval of bartender licenses for Jamie Nystrom and Joseph Nystrom (who work for Historical Days) and for Regina Shoupe. All three were recommended for approval by Police Chief Richard Badgley.


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