If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
The meeting of the Chrisman City Council held on October 4th, got off to a rocky start. Water Operator Zach Nelson attended the meeting to discuss his probationary period that was approved to be extended at the last meeting.
With the extension, this puts Nelson where he can no longer work to earn his raise. “I was curious to talk about the extent of my probationary period,” Nelson said. “I was told that I would get four raises, one or two hundred a year once the probation ended. That kind of evaporated in a second.”
Nelson went on to say that he understands budgeting concerns, but wasn’t sure that he understood the extension. With this, he has lost his paid sick leave and paid personal time that he would be receiving soon.
“It would potentially give you all the right to terminate me at any point in time,” Nelson said.
Mayor Danny Owen stated that Nelson still had to sign up and take a test in the ninety day period starting at his hiring date. Commissioner Rodney Wolfe, who made the motion to extend the probationary period, now seemed to be backing up.
“I don’t know,” Wolfe said, of the city’s right to terminate Nelson. “I can not honestly tell you.”
Commissioner Thad Crispin said that it was because the test was not taken in the appropriate amount of time. Nelson mentioned that there was no urgency given to him to take the test. “It was communicated to me in that way,” Nelson said. “I would gladly sign up for the test and start getting on it, which I’ve just started doing since the last meeting.”
Mayor Owen said that was very important for the City of Chrisman’s water operator to have a license and Nelson suggested making changes to the employee handbook after not finding anything stating the urgency to take the test.
“Maybe we can make some amendments to the employee handbook for future employees that can avoid that pitfall that I’ve fallen into,” Nelson said.
Nelson repeated that he just felt that this reserved the city the right to terminate him whenever they felt necessary.
“There’s nothing that guarantees your going to have a job other than your performance,” Mayor Owen said. Owen stated that he felt that giving Nelson the extra ninety days gave him another chance to get into the classes. “That’s just my opinion,” Owen said.
Nelson told the Mayor that he appreciated it, but still felt like opportunity for advancement was taken away from him with swipe of a pen.
“It wasn’t taken away, we’re giving you more opportunity to take your test,” Commissioner Crispin said.
Nelson voiced his displeasure that he had no opportunity to work towards a raise until the end of the probationary period. “When you get your license for something, that’s when you get your raise,” Commissioner Cory Chaney told him.
Nelson mentioned a verbal agreement that he had with Commissioner Wolfe stating that if he hit the two hundred meter mark that he would get a raise.
“I’m going to be honest with you,” Wolfe told him. “Your work ethics and standards weren’t what I expected. It’s just like giving you a second chance.”
Wolfe stated that in the last two weeks, Nelson was hired to put in meters and received a response of ‘I didn’t want to be a slave and do this work’.
“What does that mean?” Wolfe asked. Nelson responded that he said that in response to Wolfe insinuating that taking time off was more important than coming to work. “That time off was a pre-planned situation where I had money on the line,” said Nelson.
The day before, Nelson and Wolfe had a verbal disagreement in a restaurant where Nelson told Wolfe that he wasn’t going to put in the meters and do the necessary work.
“I don’t want to be used,” Nelson said.
Wolfe proceeded to ask how many meters were installed last week. The number was only seven. When Wolfe asked Nelson what his priority was, Nelson’s response was: “Apparently, my priority has been helping the street department because you only have two full-time employees.” Nelson then told Wolfe: “Erik (Bohle) can’t do everything by himself. He can’t trim a tree, fill sinkholes. A lot of this is a two man job.”
Street Commissioner Thad Crispin, who had been silent most of the meeting, began speaking his opinion. “A second set of hands comes in the evening, don’t they?” Crispin said. “It gives you three hours in the afternoon, doesn’t it?”
Nelson continued by stating that in the mornings, the jobs have become combined efforts. Crispin asked Wolfe how long it takes to put in a meter. “About thirty minutes,” Wolfe said. Nelson said that if he’s given the time to put in the meters, he can replace them faster. If he splits his duties, then replacement suffers.
“In June when we had the big storm, cleaning up brush, that was the priority,” Nelson said. “I did what I was told.” Wolfe said that now that we are connecting to Paris water, the meter replacement needs to come first.
Mayor Owen reminded Nelson that his extended probation was his second chance and asked if he had anything further. Zach brought up the sewer plant time frame, which he was told would be three years until the new sewer plant was operational and requested any estimates or if that had changed.
“Whatever the engineer and EPA comes up with in the next week,” Owen said.
City Worker Erik Bohle asked that the city revisit the dump situation.
“We had a little hiccup,” Bohle said. “I picked up a pallet today and we’re still getting trash.” Bohle said that they have chain to close the fence once the workday is over.
“I would use that,” Mayor Owen said.
Bohle also suggested that it might be a good idea to grant commercial permits to bring in revenue in order to use the dump. “The commercial guys can come in there in two days. The trucks tear things up,” Bohle said. “We dealt with that in spring, even with the snow. They were calling me wanting to plow the dump road while I’m trying to work in town.”
Bohle said that it takes a load off of the street department when they have access to it. They can pick up landscaping and grass clippings over the weekend. “Might as well haul it up there if you have the opportunity,” Bohle said.
Commissioner Crispin stated that his main concern with the commercial permits was if the city cut down a tree and the commercial trucks started to just leave it on the side of the road if they don’t want to get a permit.
Erik mentioned putting things on the curb that were manageable sizes where the city workers would not have to use any heavy equipment to move. One incident happened when traffic on Rt. One was shut down due to eight foot sections of trees being cut and left on the side of the road for the city to pick up. “It was everything I could do to move it with a tractor, let alone do anything else with it,” Bohle said.
In another matter, Commissioner Crispin said that he would have a quote by next meeting from Eric Lewsader at Lewsader Electric for the work to be done on the Centennial Park pavilion. Plumbing equipment has also been delivered.
Trick or Treat hours were also discussed. With Halloween being on a Sunday, times for Trick or Treating were set for Saturday, October 30th from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Mayor Owen stated that he would be receiving quotes for Christmas decorations on the bandstand within the next week or two and hoped to have them by the next council meeting to discuss.
The issue with grass clippings, leaves and brush being blown into the street will now be under an ordinance per discussion with Police Chief Tom Dolan which was to take place after the meeting.
With Sewer Commissioner Bryan Haddix being absent at the meeting, the discussion of the sewer operator was based off of his talks with the other Commissioners.
The conversation about hiring a sewer operator was left for the second meeting in October, when Commissioner Haddix will be present.
Commissioner Cory Chaney mentioned that a couple of baseball parents had asked him, to bring in money, if it would be alright to have businesses put billboards on the fences.
The Chrisman baseball coach, Brice Stratton, had contacted Crispin, who was all for it. “I told him that if it could help him out, I have no problems with it,” Crispin said.
The consensus was that the school had the final decision on that since it pertains to a school sport, but it is the city that has the final word and Mayor Owen reminded them that “the school doesn’t have a say so.”