Winnebago finds staffing solution

WINNEBAGO – Winnebago City Council on Tuesday approved hiring an administrative and accounting assistant, a decision that should resolve a clash with a union representing some city workers.

Recently, the city made a decision to leave vacant the position and have the work divided among other employees.

Last month, Rick Bartz, union representative for IBEW Local 949, told the council it could not have the work done by non-bargaining city employees. The union filed a grievance.

Since that meeting, Heidi Schutt submitted her resignation as an on-call office assistant. City Administrator Chris Ziegler said he had spoken to the other on-call assistant, Jeanne Korteum, about her expectations. Ziegler also said business owners and council members have expressed an expectation that the city administrator be involved and visible in the community.

“I feel that without reinstating this position, my ability to do those things would be hindered,” Ziegler said.

He recommended hiring someone for the position for 20 hours per week – about $15,900 annually – and the council approved.

Ziegler said he would inform the union, and he expects the decision to resolve the dispute between IBEW and the city.

In other city news, Kari Schwecke submitted her resignation from the ambulance crew, effective Jan. 1.

Councilwoman Stacy Huntington-Scofield asked how many emergency medical technicians the city has.

Deputy City Clerk Megan Boeck said 13 to 15, but the city needs 20.

“[It’s] getting critical,” said resident Bret Osborn.

“The ambulance is always recruiting,” Ziegler said.

Those interested in serving must complete training, he said, adding that there is a hands-on portion and exam portion. For more information, contact Winnebago City Hall at (507) 893-4774.

On another topic, Police Officer Mike Beletti requested permission to attend the 2013 Lifesavers National Conference in Denver in April. Ziegler said Beletti was nominated to attend the conference by a state law enforcement liaison because of Beletti’s work on the Toward Zero Deaths program, which encourages people to drive more safely by educating them.

“I think it’s an honor for him to be nominated for this,” Ziegler said.

In other business, the council accepted a $200 donation from Winnebago American Legion Post 82 for the Charitable Gambling 10% Fund, then immediately gave $200 from the fund to Cheryle Kelly to sponsor her husband Pat Kelly’s name on one of the stones of the Winnebago Veterans’ Memorial. Pat Kelly was a veteran member of the Legion, Ziegler said. There is a little more than $500 in the fund, he added.