OKEECHOBEE — During the Feb. 6 council meeting, city staff and council members all wore black ribbons in memory of Public Works Director David Allen, who passed away Feb. 1.
Mayor Dowling Watford spoke a few words about Allen saying he was a good friend and one of the best workers he has ever known. “He will be missed by everyone who knew him,” said the mayor. The mayor explained all city employees have been offered counseling services and urged the public to call 988 or 211 to reach a suicide hotline if they ever felt the urge to take their own lives.
One of the items on the agenda was how to fill Allen’s position. Rather than hiring another Public Works director, the council decided to promote Willie Hall from the position of lead operator to that of Operations Supervisor I. Hall currently directs field staff in support of Marvin Roberts, who has a leadership role managing all day-to-day activities at the Public Works yard as well as Hall’s crew. In addition to promoting Hall, the council also voted to hire someone contracts’ manager to manage bids, contracts and work with the city’s grants manager and finance director. It was made very obvious during the meeting that Allen left some very big shoes to fill and will be missed by all who worked with him.
Another decision discussed during the meeting involved a human resources director. Okeechobee City Clerk Lane Gamitea will no longer be responsible for human resource and personnel duties.
The Okeechobee City Council voted to relieve her of those duties and instead hire an HR person. Heather Prince, Gamiotea’s former deputy clerk was selected to the position of Human resource generalist. City Administrator Gary Ritter explained they chose to use the term generalist because she will not be overseeing staff. Generally, if the position is for a director, that person would have staff working under her.
Moving into the deputy clerk position is Katie Rogers, who formerly served as the administration secretary for the clerk’s office.
The next city council meeting will be held on Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. at city hall. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.
The city is still seeking city residents to fill empty seats on both the OUA Board of Directors and the Firefighters Pension Board of Trustees. If you are interested, please fill out an application located on the city website at www.cityofokeechobee.com/volunteer.html.