Hiring of next electric superintendent remains static amidst charged situation


A different month, but virtually the same vote. At its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 21, the Thief River Falls City Council again decided against hiring Daniel Chase as the city’s next electric superintendent.

Voting in opposition to hiring Chase were council members Jason Aarestad, Anthony Bolduc, Megan Bourne, Michele McCraw, and J. Scott Pream. Voting in favor were Mayor Brian Holmer, and council members Mike Lorenson and Steve Narverud.

The council initially considered hiring Chase on Tuesday, Jan. 3. At that time, Lorenson had made a motion to approve Chase’s hiring. That motion died for lack of a second.

The position has been vacant since Electric Superintendent Dale Narlock retired in June. If he had been hired, Chase would have been paid $104,436.80 per year and would have received a relocation expense reimbursement of up to $5,000. Interim Electric Superintendent John Kinsman had also been interviewed for the position.

In a separate, related motion, the council approved seeking applications again for the position.

Prior to the votes, Aarestad said Chase had had numerous positions in a short period of time and he was concerned about Chase’s potential longevity if he were hired. Aarestad added that he had been repeatedly told there were issues in the Electric Department. When Aarestad asked what those issues were, he said his fellow council members wouldn’t answer him. “I think this is a mistake,” he said. “I really do.”

Aarestad then advocated for Kinsman, who has worked for the city for more than 27 years. He said that Kinsman has done a great job filling in as interim electric superintendent. Aarestad asked the council to fill him in on any issues.

Lorenson replied that he didn’t think the council was at liberty to discuss employment issues except to pass them on to human resources.

Aarestad responded that he sits on the Personnel/Labor Committee with Lorenson and asked the committee about the issues. He said he hasn’t been given any answers. Instead, Aarestad said he was told if he only understood. He asked how he could understand if he wasn’t told about the issues.

Bolduc, who sits on the Utilities Committee, said he had also asked about issues in the department in that committee’s meetings, only to receive no answers.

Lorenson, who sits on both committees, said most of each committee recommended hiring Chase. He indicated those decisions weren’t unanimous. Lorenson then cited labor statistics, noting that employees usually stay at a particular position for an average of 4.3 years. He added that there is nothing to guarantee how long a person will work for the city.

Aarestad then asked for a roll call vote. Speaking about the council’s consideration of this matter, he said it was a “rail job from the get-go.” Aarestad added that there were many things that haven’t been done correctly.

Later, immediately prior to the vote, Aarestad encouraged his fellow council members to think about their ethics when they voted on the matter. “There’s a lot of stuff going on that needs to be brought to the public’s attention and it will come out, so just hope you guys do what’s right,” he said.

The council approved employing Erik Jax as a patrol officer, effective Thursday, Feb. 23. Jax, who lives in Erskine, has worked for the White Earth Tribal Police Department. In his most recent position, he served as a patrol sergeant. Jax previously served as a patrol officer and K-9 officer there. Before serving as a police officer, he worked in public safety for 17 years, including 15 years in EMS. Jax has also served as a volunteer firefighter, serving as a volunteer fire chief for five years.

City Council also approved advertising to fill an additional position for a police officer.



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