Monday, October 19, 2020

County names new highway commissioner

After a candidate search for a new Monroe County highway commissioner produced less than stellar results, the county decided to promote one of its current employees to take the position.

Pending county board approval at the February 23 meeting, David Ohnstad will be the new highway commissioner. He will replace former highway commissioner Jack Dittmar, who resigned November 21.

Ohnstad has been with the highway department for two months as a road supervisor. Prior to that, he was road and bridge superintendent in Carbon County, Mont.

Ohnstad accepted a $71,259 a year salary, not including the benefit package. Dittmar was making just under $83,000 a year when he resigned.

The county originally advertised for the position and received seven applicants. Only three met the requirement of holding a civil engineering degree. Those three were interviewed by a hiring committee, including Ken Kittleson, the Monroe County personnel  director; interim County Administrator Jim Bialecki; Juneau County Highway Commissioner Dennis Weiss; and the five members of the Monroe County Highway Committee, James Schroeder, Paul Steele, Mary Cook, David Pierce and Nodji VanWychen.

They offered the job to the top candidate, who declined the position after his present employer offered him more money, according to Kittleson. The hiring committee declined to consider the other two candidates and opted to promote from within.

Kittleson said the committee dropped the civil engineering degree requirement before offering the job to Ohnstad.

"If we'd gone ahead and re-advertised the position, we'd be months out," he said. 

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