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W’bago hires police, staff

By Staff | Oct 19, 2014

Last Tuesday was the night to fill vacant positions.

The Winnebago City Council approved several hires at their meeting.

Most of those hires were for the police department; they approved one full-time person and four part-time officers.

“We conducted second round interviews on Oct. 9 for police officers,”?Winnebago city administrator Chris Ziegler said.

After two full-time officers put in their resignation letters in August, the City Council wanted to begin the hiring process as soon as possible.

At their meeting in September, the hiring committee narrowed the pool of applicants from 50 to 15 and then conducted first-round interviews. City Council members Scott Robertson and Rick Johnson conducted those first round interviews.

“The questions focused more on personality and how they would fit in with the city,” Ziegler explained.

After that the candidate list was narrowed down and second-round interviews to be conducted by local law enforcement was scheduled.

“Sheriff Mike Gormley, Deputy Sheriff Scott Adams and Blue Earth chief of police Tom Fletcher all helped with the second-round interviews,” Ziegler said. “Those interviews were much more oriented around law enforcement questions.”

Once those were complete, they were able to choose one top candidate for the vacant full-time officer position.

The council approved the hire of Emily Swanson, of Blue Earth, for the full-time position contingent on background checks and testing.

Swanson currently works full time in the Faribault County Jail and holds part-time positions with the police departments in Wells and Minnesota Lake.

“Those who work in a jail have that much more experience and that much better communication with the public,”?chief of police Eric Olson adds.

He told the council he was confident that Swanson’s background would help her as a full-time officer and would help her notice things that other officers might not.

The council also approved several part-time officers who were interviewed during this process.

Those part-time officers include Nathan Dobie, Joshua Nelson, Kyle Brown and Joshua Crofton.

“They all did very well,”?Olson said. “It was a good group of folks.”

Since the five new police hires were all approved contingent upon background checks and test results, Olson warned of continued overtime in the department.

“The background process may take some time, so we will continue to need overtime until that is complete,”?he said. “Just so the council is aware.”

But, the police department was not the only one looking for approval to hire employees.

The Winnebago ambulance crew has been working diligently to recruit new hires due to low members in the department.

At the council meeting, the ambulance department recommended adding Cody Musel to the crew.

Musel was interviewed and was said he seemed like a good fit to the crew. The council voted and approved the hire contingent on his passing all of the department requirements.

The fire department also had some personnel issues to be taken care of by the council.

They had hired two individuals to the crew last year who would remain on probation until they passed all of their requirements to become fire fighters.

“Nick Schwager and Sal Meyer have both since passed these requirements, so we are looking for a motion to remove them from probation,” Ziegler said.

The council approved to remove them from probation and become members of the fire department.

“They typically have three years to meet all of the requirements and they were able to finish it in just one year,”?he added.

In other business:

the council approved the purchase of a bariatric cot for the ambulance department.

They crew has recently gone on a couple of calls where the regular cot was too small for the patient. The department wanted to use money from funds they have raised to purchase this new cot.

“Joshua Moore looked into the purchase and found it would cost $7,172,” Ziegler said. “This cot would fit what we already have with little or no modifications or additions.”

A brief overview on the progress of the dumpster program was also given to the council.

“The program has been pretty busy,” Ziegler said. “It’s been booked solid since spring.”

The program, which was started in response to some of the nuissance properties in town, seems to have been helping.

“It shows Winnebago is trying to maintain a good image for themselves,”?council member Jean Anderson said.