Harris takes action on public works position

The Harris City Council once again discussed what to do about the city’s public works employee position.

In the past, the position has been filled with part-time and full-time employees. Neither has worked very well. At the present time, a backup part-time employee, Jason Zastera, is doing the required work when it is needed.

City Clerk Joanne Dargay noted with the present situation, there have been no complaints about snow plowing.

Zastera expressed an interest in continuing to perform the public works duties, but certain requirements need to be met before that could happen.

Zastera insisted he would need a competent available backup for him when he is unable to respond to the city’s needs. Zastera farms, and at times farming takes precedent. During planting time or harvest time, he would not be available to the city to do unexpected duties.

The council discussed the option of bringing back Zastera as the primary public works employee and hiring two additional part-time backup public works employees. One would help in the winter and both would help in the summer with the additional time required for mowing. Dargay had calculated that based on the times required by the contract mowers to get everything taken care of, the city could get by with allotting 20 hours for the backup employees.

Basing 20 hours on a part-time rate of $17 per hour, the cost would be less than $5,000 for mowing. This does not include the use of city equipment or fuel.

The council decided to pursue this course, as Zastera has been a capable and dedicated public works employee in the past, council members noted.

The council said it will see what interest there is from local residents to take over the backup position. Once backups are lined up, Zastera will be hired as the main public works employee on a part time basis.


In other news

•Resident Cathy Gervais was before the council to request a waiver of the fees for a parade permit and event permit. Gervais was representing Spudfest, which used to be Pioneer Days. When asked why the change in names, Gervais said that it was voted on by the members. Also, the festival on June 14 will have a potato theme. The parade route will start on County Road 9, travel on 238th Street and then south on Garden Avenue to 237th Street and then back to Ginger Avenue and return to the beginning. The council approved the waiver of the parade permit fee and special event fee, but did not approve the route, as the council wants confirmation that those businesses that will be impacted by the parade are agreeable to the route.

•Jacob O’Meara is a local Boy Scout from Harris who would like to do his Eagle Scout project in the city. O’Meara was before the council asking for suggestions of what he could do to help out the city. O’Meara pointed out that the Eagle Scout project has to be an original task, not maintenance of existing facilities. The project should benefit the community. The council had suggestions and O’Meara said those would be reviewed, and he would approach the council again if he came up with any additional ideas.

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