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Dickinson hires 2 to replace Soehren

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The city of Dickinson has hired two new employees, Gary Zuroff of Glendive, Mont., as public works director and William Watson of Alamogordo, N.M., as city engineer.

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Both of these positions were previously held by Shawn Soehren, who resigned in October but has since been working for the city on a contract basis.

"I'm very excited about having these folks start," City Administrator Shawn Kessel said.

Zuroff has been in Glendive for more than 30 years.

He was ready for a change, a move to a bigger city, but didn't want to move too far away from his family and grandchildren, so Dickinson, at 100 miles away, was a good fit.

"It's a nice sized town, has things to offer and it's close to Glendive," Zuroff said.

Zuroff is excited to take on the challenges of a growing city in the public works department.

"I can just imagine how it is in Dickinson and I feel that I can really be part of the team in completing the projects that are going to be required for the growth," he said.

The biggest challenge will be learning a new set of state laws, he said.

Zuroff begins Monday.

"I'm just looking forward to getting things done," he said.

Watson most recently served as public works director for the city of Alamogordo, but has experience with growing cities, including Clark County in Nevada, where Las Vegas is located, which was the fastest-growing city in the U.S., Kessel said.

"He's very, very used to fast growth," he said. "He knows what it takes to develop in an environment that is very fast-paced."

Watson attended high school and college in Nebraska and graduate school in Minneapolis, according to his application.

"He's not entirely out of the Midwest at all," Kessel said. "He has some familiarity with our weather, which can be challenging at times."

Watson will be moving here with his wife, who is a Zumba instructor, Kessel said.

Watson is set to begin March 11.

The city owns two houses and six FEMA trailers that serve as transitional housing for new employees, Kessel said.

Watson and his wife will reside in one of the homes and Zuroff will stay in one of the FEMA trailers until his home in Glendive sells, Kessel said.

The city was also interviewing for the deputy city administrator for finance and administrative services position, but was unable to secure an employee, he said. One candidate withdrew from the process and another who got the offer took a position with another company.

The city may revamp the position, which will still include the finance and administrative services portion, Kessel said.

"That basic skill set is something that we desire and something that we will hire for," he said. "It may not hold the title of deputy city administrator anymore."

There has been some recruiting of city employees, Kessel said.

"I'm happy to say that they selected to stay with the City of Dickinson despite offers of higher wages from the private industry," he said. "I think that says something about their positions, the fact that they like where they're at, they like what they do, they like the people that they work with. I'm excited about that."

The offers to Zuroff and Watson were approved by the City Commission at Monday's regular meeting at City Hall.

With the standard city benefits package, Zuroff will earn an annual salary of $78,350, according to his offer letter. Watson's starting salary is $95,000 per year, with an increase after a 90-day minimum probationary period to $100,000 per year, according to his offer letter. He must also become a licensed engineer in the state of North Dakota within 12 months of his starting date.

The city engineering department is responsible for infrastructure projects, including water and sewer, and traffic control.

Calls to Watson went unreturned Tuesday.

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Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
(701) 456-1206
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