The Hancock County Board of Supervisors offered to hire a new full-time county engineer, pending a contract approval, at the board meeting Monday morning.
Though contract details such as vacation time still have to be ironed out, the supervisors made the offer to hire Jeremy Purvis, who lives in Kanawha and currently serves as a member of the Kanawha City Council, to be the full-time county engineer for Hancock County.
Supervisor Gary Rayhons said the board had two candidates they interviewed, including Purvis, and both were qualified, local candidates.
“Out of the two candidates that we interviewed, both wonderful candidates, they interviewed well,” Rayhons said. “They had ties to Hancock County. It was a tough decision, but either one would have done a wonderful job for our county.”
Purvis had asked for a one-year contract to be renewed automatically at the end of each year, as opposed to the usual three-year contract a county engineer gets, according to county attorney Blake Norman.
Norman said the salary for Purvis will be about $108,000 should he accept once the contract is finalized, and his start date will be sometime in early to mid-August.
Once all the contract details are ironed out, Norman will need to bring it before the board of supervisors, hopefully by Monday, July 21, to be approved as written and signed, he said.
As for the sharing agreement with Wright County for a part-time engineer, Norman said he will send notice to current county engineer Adam Clemons and Wright County immediately about the board’s decision, pursuant to the sharing agreement that states Hancock County must give 30 days’ notice before terminating the agreement.
“We have talked to the Wright County Supervisors and of course Adam, so this isn’t like it’s a surprise, and Wright County and Adam have been really good to work with over this whole thing,” Supervisor Jerry Tlach said.
Given 30 days before Clemons no longer works for Hancock County, his last day will be Aug. 13, which will provide a little overlap time between when Purvis starts and Clemons leaves, according to Norman.
“[Purvis] doesn’t have any prior engineering experience as a county engineer, so there are some things that specifically need to be done that Adam knows about that he can help with the transition,” Norman said.
Once the sharing agreement is terminated, Clemons can do private consulting at an hourly rate if Purvis needs his help when taking over the current projects, Norman said.
The board had decided to move away from sharing an engineer with Wright County, which they have done for about the past three years, near the end of April.
For more than a year, the supervisors had been debating about the fate of this contract, going over the pros and cons of either sticking with a shared engineer with Wright County or hiring a full-time engineer.
Hancock County’s previous full-time engineer retired abruptly, so the supervisors went into the sharing agreement with Wright County to help them get by while they figured out the next step, essentially putting a Band-Aid on the issue while they searched for a solution to finding a new engineer.
While a full-time engineer will come with increased costs, the secondary roads department will be more efficient and the other county offices will have less of a workload, according to Rayhons.
Grace Zaplatynsky covers Hancock and Winnebago counties. You can reach her at Grace.Zaplatynsky@GlobeGazette.com or by phone at 641-421-0534.
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