Antrim could have public works director soon

PAT FRIDGEN

Antrim Township Board of Supervisors chairman and acting roadmaster/maintenance superintendent Rick Baer is ready to give up his first-thing-in-the-morning day job.

Stepping in to oversee road and utility operations when Paul Minnich resigned Feb. 15, Baer gives direction to the road and utility crews. He was appointed Feb. 23 at a payscale of $20.50 per hour, the same wage he is paid as a second call snowplow driver.

Administrator Brad Graham at the time hoped to fill the post with a permanent employee within a month.

Since then, the township has advertised for a public works director three times, in March, July and September. The job description changed over time. Initally the township required the applicant to have a college degree in public administration, civil engineering or a related field, three years experience as a supervisor, and possession or ability to get a Pennsylvania Wastewater System operator license and commercial drivers license. The person would be in charge of roads, utilities and parks and be involved in assisting the administrator with strategic planning, budgeting, and development and implementation of policies, programs and regulations.

The latest ad did not require any specific education, but asked for three years management experience, and the ability to get Pennsylvania wastewater and waste system operator licenses and a CDL license.

Graham said at least 30 people applied for the job throughout the months, and he had interviewed eight in person, including two in recent weeks. No one had taken the position because, he said, "They were not the right fit or we couldn't come together on pay."

He would follow up on the latest applicants and was optimistic of the outcome.

Baer was anxious to get back to his electrician job fulltime.

"I love these people, but by the end of November, or January at the latest, I'd like to have someone in here," he said.

Is the position necessary?

In response to the question, Baer had also wondered if a public works director was needed or could be parttime, since the township had gotten by so far without one. He decided yes, Antrim needs that employee, fulltime.

Though his hours were down to about eight per week as his routine became established, he noted other staff members took on added duties to make sure the basics got done. Some tasks were put on the back burner.

"Brad is carrying me now," Baer said, "and he can't fulfill all of his duties. This is a stress on him."

Graham added that people in the zoning department also took on extra responsibilities.

Baer typically goes to the municipal building early in the day to talk to the road crew. If necessary, he rides out to a site to give an opinion on a project. Back at the office, he handles paperwork, including preparing bills. He has devoted more time to roads than to utilities, which he expected to reverse with a public works director.

"In the last month, some things really put us in a tailspin that we weren't counting on," he said, referring to township business with Atapco and Norfolk Southern, and a contract extension for the water treatment plant expansion.

During the Oct. 19 budget discussion, Graham presented a list of projects that were not completed in 2010. They included the building renovation, installation of a security system, replacement of radio equipment and a box culvert, codification and mapping, paving Hollowell Church Road and various improvements to the park system.

Both agreed a hiring would help.

"The sooner the better," Baer said. "It's time to find someone. We've held our own though. Things are getting done."