Following the resignation of Wayne County Engineer Jeff Skalberg on Monday, Dec. 17, the county finds themselves searching for a replacement after only a few short months from his hire date. During the regular Board of Supervisors meeting held Monday, Dec. 31, Dan Carpenter was on hand to discuss next steps as the county begins the search for Skalberg’s replacement.

“Hopefully we can find someone that’s the right fit,” said Carpenter as we spoke to the board.

Carpenter informed the board Wayne is not alone as they begin the search, as there seems to be a shortage of engineers around the surrounding counties. The board plans to search into the guidelines and codes for hiring to begin advertising to fill the vacant position.

“Yeah I think we need to get to advertising for an engineer,” said Supervisor David Dotts.

“I wanted to talk to you guys some more on where we want to be on numbers, I think it would be a good idea to put a number on there,” Carpenter continued. “Appanoose County, Wapello County, Mahaska County, Ringgold County are all in our area and without engineers right now. Cherokee County, O’Brien County, Bremer County are others I know of off the top of my head in other parts of the state that are looking for county engineers right now so I’d say we are going to have to dangle a pretty decent carrot.”

“So at this point we don’t have anyone to sign off on anything right now,” asked Supervisor Duffy Kester.

“Right that’s something we need to work on getting an interim in place,” Carpenter answered. “Gary Bishop was our interim between Trevor and Jeff and I visited with him a little bit, because he called about other stuff and he is interim at Appanoose County now so I don’t know if Appanoose County would allow it or the DOT.”

While discussing the vacant position, Carpenter notified the board the DOT was in contact with him asking where they are on seeking an engineer.

“Until we get an engineer in place all our leading projects are on hold,” said Carpenter.

In other business, Carpenter advised the board the local contractors have completed their work on the projects on 150th north of Highway 2 and on Vail while work is continuing on 45th. Weather and time dependent, the county will begin work on fertilizing and mulching on completed projects.

“Before Jeff left we interviewed for a sign guy/weed commissioner and we need to figure out where we want to go from there whether we want to revise that position a little bit or leave it the same,” Carpenter added. “We need to figure out where we want to go because also we posted for a regular operator position and we’ve gotten several applications for that as well and we haven’t started interviewing for that position yet.”

Jack Reed was present to discuss the Family Medical Leave Act with the board. Reed reminded the board of their recent decision to make the switch to a 12-month forward rolling year policy versus the old version of 12-month back as the former plan as the new approved plan is the simpler version.

“Several of my counties have done away with that as it’s too much bookkeeping and too much to do,” Reed stated of the old version of the counties FMLA plan.

“It was approved on Nov. 5,” Wayne County Auditor Michelle Dooley reminded the board. 

“One of the other decisions you get to make as the employer for FMLA is how the employee gets to use or can use approved leave time,” Reed said. “So as the employer you can force the employee to use all their accrued leave time on FMLA if you want.”

“It (the handbook) said required before and now it says may use,” Dooley said.

“So it was required before to use it?” asked Tom Swearingin.

“It was required and everyone knew upfront that if you went on FMLA and had any accrued sick or vacation that you were going to be required and there was no question about it as you were required to use it and when you were out you out,” said Dooley. “And now there’s some flexibility and options.”

Dooley also informed the board six applications were received for the deputy auditor position.

In meeting updates, Supervisor John Sellers informed the board he attended a recent 10-15 Transit meeting. Sellers stated they have purchased another residence that will be demolished for additional parking and additional garage space.

“Things are looking very well and it’s just a matter of getting the word out what they are and what is available,” Sellers said. “This isn’t the old Seneca operation and they are updating constantly with more minivans and looking at what is available for handicap accessible.”

“I have never seen in my years with them as low of repairs as now and it’s because our fleet is new,” Sellers added.

Sellers also added he attended the SIDCA meeting and was advised they are currently on the governor’s budget list at this time.

“We are out of money as we have spent the very last of it,” Sellers said. “So we are sitting there with $178,000 obligated that is in progress.”

Supervisor Duffy Kester informed the board he attended a board meeting at Public Health. Kester stated they are going to inform the public health board the board of supervisors has no plan to keep paying to keep them accredited.

“Something’s got to be done, “ Kester stated.

Kester also reported he attended a Milestones meeting.

Dotts reported he attended Chariton Valley Housing and Development meeting and a Transportation and Advisory meeting.

“I have a question, I see where different entities are supporting that group that you have coming in to study the housing,” Kester began. “Has Wayne County offered any money for that?’

“Wayne County Development did,” answered Dotts.

“So are we going to let that suffice as Wayne County money or does Wayne County themselves need to provide some money for it?” Kester asked. “I see different counties and cities giving money.”

“I think they are pretty close to their goal,” Sellers added.

“Yeah we are, we kind of thought once we get the information it might be the time we ask Wayne County for something,” stated Wayne County Secretary Denise Becker. “I think we have enough for the study.”

“So Wayne County won’t be left out on the donating?” Kester asked.

“No we are just waiting for a better time,” said Dotts.

As the meeting came to a close, Dotts said to Sellers as it was Seller’s last meeting as a supervisor before newly elected Supervisor Tom Swearingin takes office, “John Sellers, I have really enjoyed serving with you on the board of supervisors for the last four years and I wish you the very best, think of us and have a good time.”

“Thank you David, it has been a pleasure to work with you and I think all three of us have done a good job,” Sellers said. “For the most part with the structure that was in here, a few clouds have drifted away.”

“We have had problems, but we always worked it out,” said Kester. “It’s been a good time.”

The next meeting was scheduled for Jan. 2 to swear in newly elected county officials. 

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