City of Buckhannon Water Department Superintendent Kelly Arnold at last week's Water Board meeting.

Water Board approves hiring three new employees due to recent resignations

BUCKHANNON – The Buckhannon Water Board approved hiring two new water plant operators and one person to work in the distribution side of the Water Department last week due to two recent resignations.

Buckhannon’s Water Department Superintendent Kelly Arnold said the water plant had two resignations, so he plans to spend more time there.

“That’s always going to happen with us as a class IV plant,” Arnold said of the resignations. “The bigger [municipalities] are always going to try to offer more money to try to take them; we’ve lost some operators before.”

Retirement can be a factor, too, Arnold said.

“It possibly could happen again in the future and like I said, I can retire and other guys can retire,” he said.

In addition to hiring two new plant operators, the city will hire one distribution crew member because of a potential transfer – not to mention the distribution part of the city’s water operations was already short-staffed, Arnold told the City’s Water Board at its meeting Thursday.

“I have to be on site since I’m licensed in order for them to run it,” Arnold said. “I’ve been going back in the last couple weekends, just to try to familiarize myself with starting and stopping, and as far as making the adjustments, it’s going to take a while for me to get back in the swing of that, but in doing so, since I’m going to be over there more, it’s going to take me away from the distribution.”

He said they have one potential department transfer to the water plant, but that had not been worked out yet.

“We have one potential person in the department who is looking to transfer, but there’s some wage issues, and if it works out that he would go over there [the water plant], then we would be looking at two for distribution people, one to replace him as well as the other,” Arnold said.

He said they have received 16 applications for the water plant positions.

“We got one or two who have some college – one actually has a chemical degree which would expedite him pretty quickly as far as cutting his time a little shorter,” Arnold said. “He has to have at least 8,000 hours to be in the plant by himself.”

He said typically it would take three or four years for someone to be by themselves, but with this candidate’s education, it could potentially cut that time in half.

“We haven’t really interviewed anybody yet, but we have like five or six we’d like to interview,” Arnold said. “We’re going to require a math test and we actually have printed out some questions to do a grading scale to see how they would fall.”

Mayor Robbie Skinner entertained a motion to approve the hiring of two water plant operators, and it passed unanimously. Skinner asked if they should hold off on the approval to hire a distribution crew member until they knew if the employee transfer would go through.

“If we needed to wait, we could, but if we do move one over, it will be even more short-handed in distribution,” Arnold said. “Right now, my attention is more towards the plant with the two operators gone in case – and I hate to say this – but in case somebody else decides to quit in the plant, I’ve got to be more up to par on what’s going on over there.”

Skinner suggested they go ahead and approve hiring one person for distribution and if they need another person, they will revisit the matter next month.

Board member Erasmo Rizo motioned to approve hiring one person for distribution and they will revisit next month if they need another and board member Dave Thomas seconded the motion prior to it passing unanimously.

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