Saturday, August 23, 2014

City Engineering to Go Further Underwater

With the departure of Water Department Assistant Director Kevin Krueger the City of San Angelo's engineering capabilities will be further depleted.  The Standard Times reported Krueger's impending departure, but the city is yet to issue a press release.

Krueger's fourteen and a half year's with the city might merit a going away reception, as did Clinton Bailey's eighteen years.  Bailey left as the City's Chief Engineer, a position Krueger also held at one point.

At some point engineering split from a single city wide department into a two division function.  Oddly, the Water Department Chief position requires a professional engineer.  City Manager Daniel Valenzuela waived that requirement for Ricky Dickson to become San Angelo's Water Czar. 

Krueger's opportunity, like Bailey's, was one ""he could not pass up." 

Krueger's last day is Sept. 12, Dickson said, and city management is discussing how to fill Krueger's position. "We haven't gotten that far yet," Dickson said. City management is devising a game plan, Marley said, and likely will send out a news release once they have one. "His position will be tough to fill," she said. 

Especially for a city unable to fill other positions requiring a professional engineer.  From my count this is the sixth professional engineer to leave city employment in the last few years.  Only one has been replaced to my knowledge.

San Angelo's engineering deficit pushed back a number of projects, Avenue P drainage and Chadbourne Street improvements, which included streetscaping. A 2011 grant funded project will enter engineering design, approved at the at 8-21-14 City Council meeting.  Said in Council chambers:

"And you know the staff problems I've had with not having enough staff." -City Engineer Karl Bedardz 
"We at the city lost numerous valuable employees." - City Councilwoman Charlotte Farmer 
"It's unfortunate the city can't get on these things and get them out the door timely so they can get something that's in line with what they anticipate for the money they have at the time." - Chris Cornell, Recce Albert contractor for Chadbourne street improvements.

Krueger's leaving comes as the City's new water treatment plant nears completion.  Our cities growth and critical water projects depend on having an ample supply of competent engineers in operating and leadership positions.  The need for engineers is magnified by our vast need to reconstruct and renew aging streets and water infrastructure.  The engineer exodus is concerning given the city's priorities and responsibilities.

Curiously, I found the city's May 2013 press release on Clinton Bailey's departure did not make the migration to the new website.   That must have been part of the "avalanche of information" that overwhelmed users on the old website.  It seems a different avalanche took many of the city's professional engineers. 

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