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Gilmet to help City of Alpena through staffing transitions

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Alpena Building Official Don Gilmet poses at Alpena City Hall on Monday.

ALPENA — Many changes have taken place at Alpena City Hall in the last year and more are on the way.

The Alpena Municipal Council voted Monday to approve a pair of contracts that will allow a local company to temporarily oversee the Planning/Development/Zoning Department, and have the City’s former Director of Planning, Development, and Zoning Andrea Kares work remotely.

Kares quit unexpectedly late last month for personal reasons.

The Council voted 5-0 to hire Donald Gilmet, of Gilmet Construction Services, to provide plan review services, train new staff, and ensure that the City of Alpena is compliant with Public Act 230 of 1972, which allows a local unit of government to legally adopt and enforce the state plumbing code at the local level.

Gilmet, the long-time Building Official, retired early this year, and he will step in to help the department transition through a staffing change.

Gilmet will earn $30 an hour for his work.

The board also voted 5-0 to enter into a contract with Kares that will allow her to work remotely, as needed on some city business until her replacement is hired. She will be paid $34.51 an hour and either party can terminate the contract at any point. She will have a city-owned laptop and cell phone to use, until her services are no longer needed.

Earlier this year, the city merged its planning and development department with its building department when Gilmet retired.

Kares was hired to oversee planning and zoning matters and soon afterward was promoted to oversee the newly formed department. The city was left in a pinch when Kares left after a few months on the job.

To complicate matters, Building Division Head Mike Kieliszewski retired last week, leaving little experience in the department.

Interim City Manager Rich Sullenger said the new employees are doing well in their new roles, and Kares’ former position is already being advertised.

“She will be working on issues with things like zoning when we need her to, until we get someone permanent,” Sullenger said.

It took the city more than six months to hire Kares after former Planning and Development Director Adam Poll stepped down to accept another job, and it is unknown how long it will take this time as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The city is also without its city manager, Rachel Smolinski, who is on medical leave, but Sullenger shared some good news about her on Monday.

“It is my understanding that she could be back as soon as next week,” he said.

The council also voted to approve a resolution declaring assistant engineer Steve Shultz the Street Administrator.

In his memo, Sullegner said the move was made because of his decision to retire in the coming months. Sullenger said his last day could be in June, but his last day could be flexible depending on what the city’s needs are. Shultz is expected to replace Sullenger.

During the meeting Shultz introduced newly hired Assistant Engineer Charlie Kendziorski, who will take over for Shultz.

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