Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Rhinelander streets superintendent resigning for Baraboo public works jobSubmitted: 05/23/2017
Rhinelander streets superintendent resigning for Baraboo public works job
Story By Lane Kimble

RHINELANDER - A long-serving member of the Rhinelander Public Works Department who spent his entire life in the Northwoods will soon start a new career in a place nearly 200 miles from home.

Streets Superintendent Tony Gilman announced last week he plans to take a job with the city of Baraboo, which is a community of about 12,000 people. It's about an hour northwest of Madison near Wisconsin Dells.

Gilman wrote a resignation letter to Mayor Dick Johns dated May 17. In the two-page letter, Gilman praised the mayor and two aldermen. But he also criticized some of the other city leaders without using specific names.


"I believe Rhinelander, my hometown, possesses a wealth of potential under the right circumstances and I always wanted to be a part of that positive change," Gilman wrote. "Unfortunately, I do not believe that potential will be easily achievable with our current workplace culture."

The letter goes on to thank his fellow Streets Department workers, residents and contractors. Gilman also thanked Alderman Tom Gleason "for his lifelong commitment to the city... and his support during my tenure as Street Superintendent."  Gilman also thanked Alderman Steve Sauer for "his common-sense approach and dedication to representing the people and not his own agenda."

Both Sauer and Gleason declined to comment for this story.

Gilman dedicated 19 years to serving his hometown of Rhinelander, joining the Public Works Department in October 1997. He became streets superintendent in 2013.

"I was born and raised in the house that sits 200 feet from my current home," Gilman told Newswatch 12 over the phone Tuesday afternoon. "I've always loved this place."

Gilman wouldn't elaborate on any specific complaints he had with leadership. However, his letter goes on to say, "I believe any community, including Rhinelander, can only reach its potential with positive efforts towards teamwork, proper leadership in place, and accountability by its staff. Unfortunately, I believe those qualities to be lacking by some within our organization."

Gilman noted his concerns might not be shared by others in the city or the Public Works Department.

"Just because I have a certain perception of problems, it doesn't mean everyone agrees," Gilman said over the phone.

The news took Mayor Johns by surprise.

"It's going to be a loss for the city," Johns told Newswatch 12 Tuesday morning. "In my opinion, [Gilman] did an excellent job for the city."

Gilman's is just the latest in a series of departures by city employees.

The Council effectively fired City Administrator Kristina Aschenbrenner in August 2016, a little less than one year after she was hired. Police Chief Mike Steffes resigned in the middle of October, after spending nearly 10 years with the city, to take a job with the state Department of Justice. The Police and Fire Commission's chosen successor for Steffes, Kiel Police Chief Dave Funkhouser, initially agreed to take the job, then backed out after contract negotiations soured.

City Administrator Assistant Kathy Johnson also announced her retirement this spring.

Gilman's resignation letter, though, offered some of the more pointed reasons for departure compared to any other former employees of late.

"You'd better believe it, I'm concerned about that, yes," Johns said in response to Gilman's letter.

Alderman Alex Young chose to not comment directly on Gilman's departure. But Young issued his own letter to Johns and Alderman Mark Pelletier late Tuesday afternoon.

"In a December, 2016 Finance, Wage, & Salary committee meeting, Mayor Johns publically announced that he had received 'another complaint' (presumably in addition to several others), related to Public Works personnel including a department head and which apparently related to personnel problems and concerns in those departments (Public Works, the Water Utility, and the Wastewater Utility)," Young wrote.

"I was told then, probably rightfully, that it was not the City Council's business to get directly involved, but that it was more appropriate for the Mayor as the Chief Executive Officer of the City (as provided by state law), the City's insurance carrier, and City staff to deal with whatever the pending complaints or issues referred to by the Mayor may be... However, nearly six months have passed since then without an update to the City Council or the committee. 

"Given recent events including the resignation of Mr. Gilman, it is apparent to me that whatever lead to those complaints has continued to be a problem for the City... it nevertheless appears to me that if these issues continue to be unresolved, that at some point the City Council deserves to know what is going on and why, and to have a full update from the Mayor and staff."

Gilman's boss, Public Works Director Tim Kingman, offered a limited response to the resignation letter.

"I just wish Tony the best," Kingman told Newswatch 12. "He won't be easily replaced."

Gilman's job as streets superintendent in Baraboo will be largely similar to his current job of the same title in Rhinelander.

"He was one of the more experienced candidates," Baraboo City Administrator Ed Geick told Newswatch 12. "But it wasn't as much his experience but rather his experience and personality. Tony fit the criteria we had."

Gilman will supervise about 15 employees in street, stormwater, garbage pickup, and recycling areas, according to Geick.

"We're a very welcoming community," Geick said of Baraboo.  "I think that Tony will find that he will not have any trouble fitting in and finding a place to stay and getting involved."

Gilman says Baraboo offers a very strong "team-oriented" group of city workers.

"It was tough to say goodbye [to my crew] this morning," Gilman said. "I'm so proud of our crew here. They're so reliable.

"My whole family (which includes a wife and two daughters) is excited to get down to Baraboo. With me taking this role, it's a good move for my family."

Gilman's last day on duty with Rhinelander was Tuesday. He'll technically be a city employee until June 2. Gilman begins his new job in Baraboo on June 19.


Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

Play Video

LAC DU FLAMBEAU - The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program was first introduced in four states 17 years ago, but Wisconsin adopted the program in 2008.

Only two school districts in the Northwoods have this program in place. 

The Lac Du Flambeau Public school was one of the schools in the Northwoods to receive a grant for the "Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program."

Super Intendent Larry Ouimette said this type of program helps students eat healthy.

"If they are getting the nutrients that they need, then they can perform better in and outside of school," said Ouimette.

+ Read More

PARK FALLS - Big upgrades may be coming to the downtown area in Park Falls.

According to a press release from the city, the Park Falls Common Council was presented with a $1.5 million dollar plan this week.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - As temperatures dipped to 20 degrees below zero across North Central Wisconsin Tuesday night, some people woke up their cars barely starting. Others discovered that their battery died. O'Reilly Auto Parts in Rhinelander encourages people to make sure their batteries are ready to go for winter.

Batteries wear down overtime and usually have a life expectancy of four years. Anything beyond that time can create some uncertainty. If people try to jump their cars on a frozen battery, that can cause other problems too.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander District Library hosted its annual Holiday Tea Party Wednesday afternoon. The event was a success, thanks to the help of some friends.

The Friends of the Library is a volunteer organization that helps the library in a number of ways. They organized everything for the tea party, from the snacks, to the decorations, to the free raffle prizes.

"It's a way to give people some Christmas joy," said Friends of the Library leader Claudia Baker. "There's a lot of people that like to just come here and listen to the music."

+ Read More

OSHKOSH - Bail has been set at $1 million for a 16-year-old Wisconsin boy charged with attempted murder for allegedly stabbing a school resource officer with a barbecue fork.

Grant Fuhrman was charged as an adult Wednesday in last week's attack on Oshkosh West High School Resource Officer Mike Wissink.

+ Read More

- There is a new E. coli outbreak linked to Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp Chopped Salad Kits.

According to the FDA and CDC, the outbreak has sickened eight people in three states including Wisconsin. There are 16 cases in Canada as well.

+ Read More

WISCONSIN - The "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" holiday campaign begins on Friday, December 13th.

The campaign aims to keep people from drinking and driving during the holidays.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: