Lemoore residents preview possible next public works director

By Ed Martin, Editor
Reben Reyna (below) and Oscar Coronado work on the solar panels at the Public Works Department.
Reben Reyna (below) and Oscar Coronado work on the solar panels at the Public Works Department.

Lemoore’s new city manager, Andi Welsh, isn’t content with just hiring a new public works director. She wants the best public director she can find, and she’s asking the public to help her. Currently the job title is posted as public works/planning director, but that could change as Welsh gets more acclimated to the city’s needs.

A couple of years ago the Lemoore City Council, in an effort to save money, eliminated the planning department and placed it under the auspices of former Public Work’s Director David Wlaschin. Wlaschin retired in May, and since then the public works department has been under the control of Parks and Recreation Director Joe Simonson.

According to Welsh the city will host a “meet and greet” this Monday, Aug. 31 from 7-8 a.m. in the Lemoore Civic Auditorium lobby, at 435 C Street.

The final three candidates are Nathan Olson, Bharadwaj Vedula and Patrick McGarry, all of whom will no doubt be on the hot seat as each, in addition to meeting with the public, will be required to meet with an interview panel immediately following and make a PowerPoint presentation.

The final two candidates will meet with Welsh for a final interview and she will decide who makes the cut.

“I think it’s important that public officials have an opportunity to meet with the public,” said City Manager Andi Welsh. “I want to make sure we find somebody that’s a good fit.”

Welsh said they will meet Monday morning and residents can ask questions by submitting cards. “People do not need to stay the whole time. It’s going to be relatively unstructured,” she said.

At least one councilmember likes the idea. “I think it’s a very innovate idea. I’m very pleased to see that our city manager is thinking outside the box about recruitment and getting the best possible candidate for Lemoore,” said Councilmember Ray Madrigal. “This will allow the public to have impact on who we select. I like the fact that she’s letting the public have input.”

The public works director’s job is one of the most important in the city. He or she is responsible for a myriad of activities including building, inspections, water and wastewater treatment, refuse and recycling, lighting and landscape, maintenance and public facilities. The director also functions as fire marshal.

Since 2013 the public works director has been responsible for planning as well. Is that likely to change? Welsh said the council may discuss the possibility during a council retreat scheduled for Sept. 18 beginning at 9 a.m. at either West Hills College or the Kings County Office of Education.

“It’s something under review,” said Welsh who has spent her short tenure here studying the layout of the city, its various departments and officials. “We’ll be having conversations with the council,” she said. “The council does need to have a conversation about that.”

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