The Jackson County Highway Department decided Tuesday during their monthly meeting to begin the process for hiring their own highway commissioner, ending an eight-year relationship with Clark County.
For more than eight years, Randy Anderson has split his duties as highway commissioner between Jackson and Clark Counties. With his announcement that he would be retiring at the end of the year, the two counties have been working on a solution to replace Anderson.
Both counties decided to post a job application as a dual highway commissioner for both counties, looking for someone with previous commissioner experience.
A total of five applicants applied to the position, with one actually qualifying for the position, “There were about five applicants, but the others do not have any commissioner experience so that was the one we were going to interview,” Anderson said.
The one person that qualified for the position did not work out though because this individual decided to take a different position.
It was these circumstances that led the two Highway Departments to break ties.
“It was pretty much our idea that we take a shot with Clark and if we couldn’t come up with candidates, we would take action on it to go back on our own,” Jeff Amo said, chair of the Jackson County Highway Committee.
This move would cost the county more money, with the committee expecting the total cost to raise about $20,000 a year.
Randy said one of the larger concerns is the high demand right now for highway commissioners in the area, with Pepin, Dunn and Clark counties all having open highway commissioner positions, “Right now for some reason we have a big turnover of highway commissioners, so it is not all just because they are aging out like me, the younger ones are moving around too.”
Diane Peterson, personnel director for Jackson County, further explained that pay may be to blame for these issues, “I think this is why we are seeing commissioners jump to different counties because different counties have finalized their wage scales and are utilizing higher wages.”
As in other positions the county is trying to fill, Peterson felt some people may shy away from this position in Jackson County because of the pay scale, “One thing the commissioner did bring up is down the road where our pay range is, it might be necessary that we will need to go out to market and look at raising where that pay is compared to other counties.”
The committee is hopeful that they will be able to find a replacement before Anderson retires in December. Peterson hopes to have someone in place in October.
The committee also chose to loosen the previous requirements for the position by allowing those with ample experience to qualify instead of requiring a bachelor’s degree and experience.