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Reid Watson joins Akeley city staff

Reid Watson has accepted the positions of water and sewer maintenance superintendent and highway streets and roads maintenance department supervisor for the city of Akeley, effective March 1.

The council made a motion to extend the offer for the city positions to Reid Watson at a special meeting Feb. 23.

The council approved a starting wage of $20 per hour, with wage increases based on completing the licenses required for the positions.

Council member Dan Riggs said pay equity will also need to be addressed, but doesn’t think Watson would accept the job for less since he is currently making $21 per hour.

“It is what it is and it’s a required position,” he said. “I’ve dealt with some of the people with pay equity and most of the time they understand common sense.”

City Clerk Kristi Kath said a shortfall in the budget will need to be addressed since the city is also paying $3,000 a month to Advanced Elements Operations (AEO) for water and sewer services while the new employee is training for licensures. “And what we were paying for an operator isn’t apparently what people are making these days,” she said.

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During his interview with the council on Feb. 18, Watson said his work experience included driving for construction in Hackensack, driving logging trucks in Bemidji and doing highway maintenance for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

He also has experience with putting in docks and lifts and knows how to maintain equipment.

“I’m looking for a new adventure, something long-term,” he said. “I have two young kids, so I am interested in a more flexible schedule.”

Watson’s experience with equipment includes dump trucks, snow plows, bulldozers, backhoes tractors and mowers. He also trained on a road grader.

“Using equipment comes naturally to me,” he said. “I’m self-motivated and get the job done.”

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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