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New Faces Join County Offices

Supervisors Approve Salaries For New Staff Members

January 24, 2013
Dan Voigt , Emmetsburg News

There will be several new faces joining Palo Alto County offices following action by the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors Tuesday. Approvals for salaries for a new staff member in the County Auditor's Office and two new Sheriff's deputies were granted by the Supervisors during the weekly board meeting.

Palo Alto County Sheriff Lynn Schultes informed the board than testing for candidates for the two vacancies in the sheriff's office was conducted on Saturday, Jan. 5.

"We had a total of 14 applications for our positions and 11 individuals tested for those openings," Schultes explained. "Five of the applicants did not pass the written test. Of the six who did, five are certified peace officers in the State of Iowa and would not have to attend the academy."

After the initial testing, the six individuals were interviewed by the members of the Palo Alto County Civil Service Commission, who then certified a list of candidates to Schultes, who then conducted interviews with the candidates.

"As of January 14, I made conditional offers of employment to Seth Nelson and Ben Morey," Schultes told the board.

Nelson is a native of Vail, IA, and a graduate of the Iowa Lakes Community College Criminal Justice program. Since 2003, he has been a police officer for the City of Emmetsburg, and is fully certified as a peace officer in the State of Iowa.

Morey is an Emmetsburg native and received a Bachelors' degree from the University of Northern Iowa in Criminal Justice. He is a member of the Palo Alto County Sheriff's Reserves, and has most recently served as a patrol officer for the Northwood Police Department. He is also fully certified as a peace officer in the State of Iowa.

"We don't have to send either of these men to the academy, which will be a great savings to our budget," Schultes noted. "I would request you authorize their hiring at the salary of $45,357.90 yearly."

Schultes continued, "We are so thankful to bring these two on board starting Feb. 1. They are both enthusiastic young men who will do a very good job for the citizens of Palo Alto County."

Palo Alto County Auditor Carmen Moser informed the board of the hiring to fill a vacancy in her office.

"I have hired Amber Brownell for the position in the Auditor's Office," Moser explained. "We had a total of 38 applications for the position created by the retirement of Duane Sandberg. I held six interviews and then had three final interviews. Amber graduated from Iowa Lakes in the Office Specialist program."

Brownell will start at a salary of $32,500, which will rise to $35,000 on July 1, and then to $36,000 on July 1, 2014 until reaching the current standard office deputy salary of $37,752 in Feb. of 2015, according to Moser.

"When we have vacancies for county jobs, we always seem to have plenty of applicants," Supervisor Keith Wirtz said to Moser "How many of the 38 applicants for this job were really qualified for it?"

"Realistically, about 12, and I cut that down to five," Moser replied.

"How did you do that?" Supervisor Ed Noonan asked.

"I used their resumes` and applications and then evaluated their qualifications, based on their resumes`," Moser replied.

The Supervisors gave unanimous approval to all three hirings and the respective salaries.

In other business, the board was briefed on plans by the Secondary Road Department to purchase two new gravel/snowplow trucks, one in the current fiscal year and the second at the start of the new fiscal year. County Engineer Joel Fantz explained that by bidding the two trucks at the same time, better pricing could be expected, rather than individually.

"These gravel-plowing trucks are very expensive anymore, but they are a necessity for snow plowing," Fantz explained. "For graveling our roads, we have purchased the four used semi-tractors and four belly-dump trailers for $37,000 each for the tractors and $35,000 each for the trailers, which has proven to be more economical."

According to the engineer, the semis can haul almost double the gravel in a trip as a regular dump truck, using the same amount of fuel.

"The semis do save a lot of wear and tear on the plow trucks," Fantz noted. "And, the last two trucks we bought were in 2007 and have 182,000 miles on them."

Fantz noted that the Environmental Protection Agency had introduced new standards of particulate emissions for diesel engines that have made new trucks less efficient, fuel-wise, for more money.

In a telephone conference call with Kossuth County regarding Joint Drainage District One Lateral M, the boards voted to obtain bids for two options; re-routing a tile line or construction of a grass waterway to address a drainage issue. The bid letting was set for 9:35 a.m. on Tuesday, March 5, via a telephone conference call.



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