Chesterton Tribune

Town Engineer O'Dell named Interim Utility Superintendent

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The Chesterton Utility has an interim superintendent, at least for the moment.

At a special meeting on Thursday, the Utility Service Board voted 4-0 to appoint Town Engineer Mark O’Dell as interim superintendent, in place of outgoing superintendent Steve Yagelski, whose last day in the position is today. Member Jim Raffin was not in attendance.

On Jan. 27 Yagelski notified the Service Board of his resignation and indicated that he has accepted a position with another utility.

The appointment of O’Dell did occasion a discussion. President Larry Brandt appeared not to think it necessary and suggested that the three separate divisions of the Utility—Collections head by Supervisor Jason Ihler, Operations by Chief Operator Dick Condon, and Administration by Administrative Assistant Jodi Elliott—could pretty well run by themselves until a new and permanent superintendent is hired.

Members John Schnadenberg and Scot McCord, on the other hand, pointed to an official chain of command for use in emergencies, approved by the Service Board at its January meeting, which specifically sites O’Dell as the go-to man when the superintendent is unavailable. “I think it’s a simple as following our chain of command,” Schnadenberg said.

Brandt, however, disagreed, on the ground that the chain of command is “not applicable” in this case, as it was promulgated for emergencies. “Now we’re talking daily operation,” he said.

“I think the chain of command does come into play,” Schnadenberg replied, “in the absence of a superintendent.”

“I think (O’Dell) needs to be involved,” McCord said for his part. “With (Yagelski) leaving, we need a face out there.”

But Brandt persisted, citing O’Dell’s other responsibilities. “I don’t see him being responsible for handling staff meetings, IDEM reports, preparing for board meetings,” he said.

Then Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson cut the Gordian knot. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management requires the Utility to have a designated, official signatory, and the Service Board really must appoint someone. It could be O’Dell, he said, it could even be Brandt, but there must be a formal responsible authority.

The Service Board accordingly voted to appoint O’Dell.

Meanwhile, Brandt indicated that he would be speaking with Leann McCrum of the Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center—who assisted the Town Council in the recruitment of a new town manager—about beginning the process of hiring a new superintendent. As part of that process the Service Board will hold a special meting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 10, at the wastewater treatment plant to discuss the preparation of a competency profile.

The Service Board also voted 4-0 formally to accept Yagelski’s resignation.

 

Posted 2/6/2009