Minden City Council Deliberates Potential New Public Works Director in Workshop

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The Minden City Council, Mayor, as well as the heads of various departments in the city were present in the Pelican Room of City Hall for a workshop to go over the June’s meeting agenda for next week. The agenda item that took the most time in the meeting to discuss was the hiring of a new public works director.  

The City has not had someone to fill that position for nearly five years now, and complications have arisen as a result. 

When it comes to hiring, the conflict seems that the city is interested in hiring an individual with more direct public works experience, but for the salary that they are willing to offer, getting a younger, less experienced individual whom they can train seems to some like a more realistic option for actually getting the position filled.

“I’m of the opinion that we need a much more experienced individual to work in that department,” said Councilman Edwards of Dist. A.

“In some ways I wish we had an assistant position to put him in, to work him up to the next level. Right now I’m undecided on my position on that.”

Councilman Michael Roy of Dist. D added, “I understand as far as the experience. I guess my thought process is that I would prefer a younger person because he can learn. He has time to sit in with these guys who have been doing it. We really need someone pretty quick.”

“These guys know a lot of information, and if we don’t have somebody in here that can start absorbing that information, we’re going to be in a world of hurt. I just think that he’s got the degree, I think he’s got the ability to learn, and as far as I know the department heads are on board.”

Councilman Plan Bloxom of Dist. E was rather straightforward in saying that the city wouldn’t be able to hire someone with experience for the rate that they are able to pay. She also mentioned that the individual considers Minden to be his home, which she believes is worth considering when finding someone for this position.

“With the amount of money we have allotted to pay someone, we’re not going to get anybody with 10 years experience, so [he] could be the man who could step in and fill in this position,” said Councilman Pam Bloxom of Dist. E.

“And I know for a fact that [he] really wants to come to work for Minden, and you don’t have that out there on a regular basis. People who really really want to work for Minden.

He considers Minden his home, I think that’s a trump card, so I’m for it.”

Councilman Bradford of Dist. C initially voiced that he didn’t want to hire the individual due to there being an alleged unannounced change in the job description for public works director requiring a degree. “It’s a no for me,” said Bradford.

“Is there a particular reason?” asked Mayor Terry Gardner.

“Yeah, yall changed the job description. At one time, it asked for experience, yall changed it to a degree. It hasn’t always been this way,” said Bradford.

After this exchange the subject of the conversation changed to trying to find out if in fact there had been a change to the job description of Public Works Director. After consulting with some members of the city’s personnel committee, the body which would have to approve any changes to the job description, it was confirmed that no changes had been made anytime recently. 

“I’m not for it. Bottom line,” said Bradford.

Gardner responded, “But it’s because you think somebody has come in here and slipped around and changed…”

“Exactly,” interjected Bradford. “I’m only one fifth, and I’m saying no, so you got another four fifths to do whatever they think.”

After hearing each other’s initial thoughts on the individual they were considering for the position, the Council then turned the department heads to see what they thought.

Once again, the biggest hang up on the hire was with the lack of direct public works experience, though some heads were willing to at least try the hire out.

“Y’all need to do something. Y’all need a public works director. What’s it been, 4-5 years? It’s bad,” said Steam Plant Manager Russel Poole.

“If he has the qualifications, I think you should give him a chance, and he’ll be on probation, so if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out.”

Airport Manager Steven Burdeaux added, “We’ve needed one for several years. In my opinion I don’t necessarily think the public works director, right in the door, needs to be an expert in everything public works. It’s more of a people management position. You should have people in the departments underneath you that you trust to run their own departments and not necessarily micro manage everything.”

While some were willing to try him out, others were adamant that the lack of experience would be too big of a problem. When Terry Combs shared his thoughts, he noted not only the lack of experience, but also the fact that there would be added difficulty for someone without said experience to work in an environment where the Mayor and the Council don’t get along.

“I think because of the inexperienced, it’s going to be an issue, but then he’s going to have another issue. He’s got to come in here and work for a Council and Mayor where it’s volatile,” said Combs.

“You used the word volatile. Why?” asked Edwards.

“I use the word volatile because we know, everybody knows, that the Council and Mayor don’t see eye to eye, and you’re going to bring an individual in here, which I feel is going to ruin him,” said Combs.

“He’s a young guy, I like him, but he’s got to try and be able to work both sides of the fence and I think that’s going to be hard for him to do. And it’s true, it’s going to be hard to bring an experienced public works director in here for the amount of money you’re paying, but you’re going to need somebody who has that.”

“He’s got to answer to the mayor, then (the Council) are going to call him, then he’s got to try and relate to us, and he’s got to work all of that. You need somebody with some experience,” said Combs.

By the end of the discussion, it was clear that Councilmen Roy and Bloxom were in approval of the new hire, with Councilman Bradford disapproving, and Councilman Edwards still undecided. This means whether or not Minden gets a new Public Works Director won’t be confirmed until next week’s City Council Meeting.

The monthly City Council Meeting takes place on the first Monday of every month, starting at 5:30 p.m. at Minden City Hall. Meetings are open to the public. 

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