Mary Cordle
A large crowd gathered for the Feb. 25 Caliente City Council meeting as citizens expressed concerns regarding the hiring process for a new public works manager.

Because of Presidents’ Day, the Caliente City Council held its meeting on Feb. 25 rather than on the usual Monday. The room was packed and additional chairs had to be brought out to accommodate the crowd. The public comment part of the meeting was extended, lasting approximately 35 minutes.

Much of public comment was on the process for hiring a new public works manager.

Former Mayor G. Tommy Rowe stated his opinion that “the opening on item 9-II, was done, if not illegally, completely against the policy.” He added that he believed that the “city attorney should have stopped the interviews [for public works manager]” and that the job opening should be pulled from the agenda until the interviews are repeated correctly.

James Ebert, equipment operator for Union Shop 14, then spoke. He stated that the job application clearly notes that applications must reside within city limits. He applied and “received a call that I would be given an interview.”

He said the four people on the panel who interviewed Ebert were

City Attorney Franklin Katschke, Councilman Regen Gubler, Mayor Victor Jones and Deputy City Clerk Amanda Anderson. Ebert said the interview went fine until the end when the mayor referred to him as “his enemy” because of his position in the union. According to Ebert, “I later found out the people that sat on the interview board were not the same ones that sat on the selection board; one person was missing on the selection board that happened to be a member of the union.”

He was notified on Feb. 18 that Grant Perkins had gotten the job. As of Feb. 25, Ebert said, the council hadn’t voted on approving Perkins’ hire, which, Ebert said, was “an insult to the city.” He requested that the council vote to table the item on the agenda and start over with a new committee and process.

Mary Naegle commented on agenda item eight nine, alcohol in the park. She stated that she’s against allowing alcohol in the park. “When I want a drink, I go to the bar. I don’t want the bar coming out in the public around my grandkids. It’s a public safety issue. The area around Memorial Park is packed with cars and with kids running around.”

Naegle then voiced her opinion on the hiring of the public works manager, saying that any city limits stipulations should be the same for each candidate.

Bud Sanders spoke up about the proposed liquor permit for city parks. He believes it’s a liability and that “We have never before issued a permit where liquor is served in a city park or street … We’re spitting on the faces of all the people that want to bring their families from different religions to our town to enjoy this.”

Next, Jamin Hunter spoke. He said that the council had originally found city employee Chris Glassburn to be an acceptable, qualified candidate and then revised its opinion without warning simply because a new candidate presented himself. He opined that the matter was handled unfairly and that “I don’t think that’s a fair way to negotiate with a current city employee who has been here 12 years, done his job, and was proven to be qualified. I hope you guys take it under consideration … because we trust you guys to make the right decision.’’

Gubler weighed in, saying that he was on the interviewing committee and believes everybody was treated fairly. “I did not see any unfairness; every applicant was asked the same questions. They were also given the same opportunity to ask questions back and to address any comments or concerns.”

He added that people who were not directly involved in the decision-making process don’t know about “extenuating circumstances [or] … all the factors or the facts.”

Gubler was firm in expressing that the committee hired someone they believed would best serve the needs of Caliente. He noted that though it has always been the policy to hire within city limits, there’s no ordinance against hiring outside the city if necessary.

Councilman Steve Rowe asked Amanda Anderson if she had a say in the hiring decision. She said she did.

Mayor Jones reiterated what other council members had said, stating that the interview process was fair. He then introduced a motion for hiring Perkins for the position of public works manager as per the unanimous decision by the hiring committee.

Gubler seconded the motion and it was unanimously carried.

At that point, Ebert, Glassburn, and a few others angrily left the building.

With public comments concluded, the council approved adoption of the resolution establishing a relationship between the city of Caliente and the Caliente Beautification Committee.

The council approved EZJG Caliente Land, LLC and J&J Family Trust merger and resubdivision of APNs 003-220-11, 003-220-13 and 003-220-14 in accordance with the survey map prepared and certified on Feb. 6 by Leonard Smith.

The council also approved a business license for Kim Stabbing of Imaging Concepts of Southern Utah.

Mark Holt requested a refund for the water bill for his property at 203 Clover Street, due to a water leak. He received a $299.46 credit back. The leak was fixed promptly.

Dave Korndawg Martin, the Groundshakers MC, had his paperwork approved for the 3rd Annual Casey Folks 100 on April 27, 2019.

Sharon Dirks, principal of Caliente Elementary, requested money for two tables for outside lunches at the school. Rowe said he didn’t feel right about having the council make that purchase. Therefore, the Caliente Volunteer Fire Department bought a table for the school, as did Fish and Wildlife.

The council voted to change late fees for future utility bills to the last day of the month. This will result in some loss of revenue to the city but will help the citizens.