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BE hires liquor store manager

By Staff | Apr 21, 2019

The Blue Earth City Council hired a new municipal liquor store manager for Blue Earth Wine and Spirits, during their regular monthly meeting last Monday night.

But, the decision did not come without some controversy and comments by two of the liquor store’s employees.

There had been 16 applications, and those were narrowed down to five finalists to be interviewed. Three of the finalists were then interviewed a second time and the three were scored by a personnel committee.

The final choice was John Oswald, currently the owner of Oswald’s Brewery in downtown Blue Earth. He will begin on April 29 and will work for the month of May with retiring manager Craig Wells for training.

The other two finalists were Dave Olson, currently an employee at the municipal liquor store, and Tammy Davis, currently employed at the Blue Earth City Hall.

Before the vote was taken, city administrator Tim Ibisch gave a detailed description of just how the selection was made.

Wells had given his notice of his retirement back in December, Ibisch had noted, and the position had been advertised starting in late February.

“The personnel committee appointed by the mayor was composed of councilmen Glenn Gaylord and John Huisman, plus liquor store manager Craig Wells,” Ibisch said. “After the five finalists were all interviewed once, three were selected for a second interview. After that the committee members scored the three in different areas and Mr. Oswald had the high score.”

Huisman made the motion to accept the committee’s recommendation that John Oswald be hired as the new manager.

Before the voting took place, however, there was plenty of discussion amongst the council members, including concerns with Oswald taking on a full-time job when he was also running his own business.

“Mr. Oswald told us he was training a manager to handle the brewery,” Huisman said. “He would still own the business, but he would not be running it, he said. He will be full-time at the liquor store.”

Two current part-time employees at the liquor store also asked to be heard before the vote.

Crystal Sanders and Amber Belaski both questioned the choice of Oswald over Olson.

“Dave (Olson) is already familiar with the liquor store and its operation,” Sanders said. “He has been training with Craig (Wells). I?have a concern with Oswald coming in and making all kinds of changes.”

Belaski agreed with those sentiments.

“I am a fairly new employee but I can see everything Dave does there,” she said. “We sure don’t want to lose him out there over this.”

Administrator Ibisch confirmed after the meeting to the Register that Olson had submitted his resignation from employment at the liquor store.

Huisman added the committee selected and recommended the person they thought would be able to do the best job managing the store for the city.

“John (Oswald) expressed a lot of ideas for making some changes and promoting the liquor store,” Huisman said. “He also scored quite a bit higher than the other two finalists.”

The vote to hire Oswald was unanimous.