Recent retirements and departures have left the Lincoln County Road Department shorthanded for the time being, but also in a position where they might consider restructuring the department.

During the regular bi-monthly Board of Highway Commissioners meeting July 1, a decision was made to advertise in house for a new road supervisor, but also to accept applications through July 19 from the public for an undisclosed number of operators, laborers, and mechanics. Commissioner Adam Katschke was absent.

Acting road department supervisor Shane Cheeney said the department has recently had the retirement of three longtime employees, John Allen, John Marich, and supervisor Steve Chouquer.

Commissioner Paul Mathews presented the idea of creating a new position of Project Manager in the department. “With the number of openings we have right now, we have the rare opportunity of reorganizing.”

He believes there would be great benefit to having a, “professional person to work with the road department, with public works, and all the things we are usually asking questions about.”

Mathews added, “Right now, the project manager would have to be a road department position.” In part, it would be their job to secure the materials, some engineering work, work on designing, bidding, funding, liaison work, and coordinating with contractors, when necessary, on jobs planned, etc. “Then the road supervisor,” he said, “would be able to focus more on doing his job of managing the crew.

A detailed job description and definition of the role of the project manager was not laid out by Mathews, but board members can determine those matters in future discussions. “I have confidence that if we had a professional person like that on board, they would fill a role and do a lot of things to add to our department that we don’t even see,” he said. “We have been operating the roads without that position.

The workload for one guy is more than one guy’s job, help is needed.”

Mathews said the project manager might also be able to work, at times, with the County Planning and Building Department on public works projects. “In my mind, as a member of this (highway) board, I want a professional person in here giving us the solution, rather than us trying to figure it out amongst ourselves. I think there is some benefit.”

Commissioners thought applicants might come from a construction management background.

Cheeney said he worked a lot with Chuck Beckler (now retired) when he was with the Building and Planning Department. “He was a lot of input to me. I took a lot of projects to him for his opinions.”