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Chester Public Utility District job description sparks controversy


M. Kate West
Staff Writer

After several months of effort to build an effective job description for the general manager position, the Chester Public Utility District board of directors have hit a speed bump.

As a member of the general manager/fire chief hiring committee, director Wes Scott presented the job description for action during the special meeting held in late September.

When vice chairman Ben Thompson called for discussion, director Barbara Montandon had much to say.

“There is a lot of controversy over the hiring of the general manager and, unfortunately, I think I would like to see us start all over and involve only the non-applicants in writing the description of general manager and fire chief and go from there,” Montandon said.

“That’s my feeling on it; if we disagree we have three of us here.”

She also said, “It had been brought to my attention several times that there has been a person involved in the writing of the job description that is an applicant. Joe (Waterman) said he was almost finished with the job description and he was going to give it to us to critique.”

“What are you asking?” Scott asked.

“What process would you suggest to make this more transparent in this recruitment process?” Montandon asked in reply.

Several other people participated in the discussion, including office manager Cheryl Johnson, volunteer firefighter Steve Trotter and Capt. Chris Dean.

Dean advised the board that Quincy Fire Chief Robbie Cassou would be happy to sit in on the candidate review. He also said Tom Forester would be happy to discuss any board member questions.

Johnson said her problem with the job description was that “it was for the position of general manager/fire chief, but the requirements were written primarily for the general manager.”

“I suggest we re-fly the position and update the job description to list the schooling required and/or alternate experience,” Montandon said. “It has been my experience that experience is more valuable than a four-year college.” 

Trotter concurred and said, “I believe that adding the experience and certifications required would open the field and broaden the scope and potentially more employees. I do not believe that persons with extensive experience and no degree shouldn’t be considered.”

“I don’t have experience with job descriptions; I just want to make sure that this board, a good board, wants to do what's best for the district,” Montandon said. “It’s a good job description.”

The end result of the discussion involved two changes to the job description.

The board voted to accept the job description with the deletion of fire chief from the position title and the addition of “and/or experience” to the education and qualification section.

The job description has since been returned to board chairman Joe Waterman for final revision before it is posted in the want ads of the newspaper.




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