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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

County job openings include half of approved firefighter posts

Updated: Jan 19, 2023

Linn County Clerk office workers Katie Parscale, left, and Morgan Northcutt hand out fire helmet to kids (and some adults) during a parade in Mound City last fall. The Linn County Fire Department has also used parades around the county to hand out fliers in hopes of recruiting more firefighters. (Journal file photo)

MOUND CITY – Nearly half of the “volunteer” positions approved for the rural fire departments across Linn County are not filled. Of the 119 positions approved by the county commission, there are 64 openings. That does not include city fire departments for La Cygne and Pleasanton.

Human Resources Director Morgan Northcutt provided information to the Linn County Commissioners on Tuesday, Jan. 17, about job vacancies and moves she was taking to retain employees and hire new people.

Northcutt handed out information that showed the vacancies in each county department. The chart for public works shows that there are five equipment operator openings, two at the north shop and three at the south shop. The north shop also has openings for two mechanics.

The member chart which are the firefighter positions in the county showed even more openings. Fire stations and their openings are:

  • Mound City is approved for 15 firefighters and has six, with nine openings.

  • Pleasanton is approved for 22 firefighters and has 14, eight openings

  • Centerville is approved for 15 firefighters and has six, nine openings

  • Parker is approved for 15 firefighters and has five, 10 openings

  • La Cygne is approved for 22 firefighters and has 12, 10 openings

  • Prescott is approved for 15 firefighters and has six, nine openings

  • Blue Mound, is approved for 15 firefighters and has six, nine openings

In a previous interview, Northcutt said that historically there has been a consistent a need for more volunteer firefighters. At best a part-time job with random hours that includes being on call around the clock, a firefighter receives $30 for the first three hours of a call and $10 for each subsequent hour.

Northcutt, at Tuesday’s meeting, pointed out that Fire Chief Randy Hegwald has been working on recruitment by taking the fire trucks to parades and events and getting the firefighters more involved.

Northcutt read off the openings at the sheriff’s department. They are one deputy, one jailer, and two dispatchers open.

Northcutt told the commissioners that the goal is to continue with the advertising with the electronic sign and a little bit more of the digital approach advertising on Facebook. She said she had been working on posters for the digital marketing for Facebook and other platforms.

She also provided the commissioners with an exit interview form that all employees will fill out and discuss if they are resigning. She hopes that this form will give the county more insight into why employees are leaving.

The exit form is six pages long and allows for exiting employees to rate different parts of their jobs, their supervisors, peers and compensation. The form also has space for comments.

She told the commissioners that this may help the county address any concerning issues that cause employees to leave.

“If we know what the problem is, we can fix it; if we don’t, we can’t fix it,” said Northcutt.

The commissioners agreed that the exit interview should be implemented.

Northcutt said that in March or April, the county will start to advertise for seasonal mowers. She said that there will be one stationed out of La Cygne, Mound City and Pleasanton whose supervisor will be Mike Nation out of La Cygne.

This presentation comes on the heels of Sheriff Kevin Friend telling the commissioners last week that salaries needed to be raised for all employees in Linn County. Friend told the commissioners that the county was losing long-time employees and possible new hires to surrounding counties.

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