Stephens to become building commissioner

by Eric Stearley

During the March 5 meeting of the Wabash City Board of Public Works and Safety, John H. Stephens was appointed to take over as Building Commissioner following Ron Buzzard’s retirement in April.

“I’ve been in the process of trying to find his replacement and I’m happy to say here today that I have found one,” said Mayor Robert Vanlandingham.

Spending most of his career in the field of land surveying, Stephens was most recently employed as a project manager for ForeSight Consulting, a land surveying and engineering firm with offices in Fort Wayne and Wabash. He is also the owner of his own private land surveying and civil engineering firm, John H. Stephens, R.L.S. Inc., located on Wabash Street across from the courthouse. Stephens worked as the Wabash County Surveyor for 14 years starting in 1989 and served as president of the Indiana County Surveyors Association from 2001-2002. He received the association’s Presidents’ Award in 1999. He earned the Distinguished Surveyor Award from the Indiana Society of Professional Land Surveyors, serving on the board of directors from 1998 to 2005.

“We’re glad to have John on board, and we’re looking forward to working with him,” said Mayor Vanlandingham, after giving Stephens a hard time for being a Purdue Graduate. “I told him every time he comes into my office, he has to salute that [Indiana University] flag.”

Stephens will be job shadowing until April, when he will take over Buzzard’s position.

“I’ve been interested for quite a while,” said Stephens. “I worked down at the city several years ago under Mike Davis and Mayor Dingledy, and I just enjoyed it then, and I’m ready to get back into it.

Stephens said that his surveying business will continue, and that he has qualified individuals ready to run that office full-time, but he will continue to advise them.

“It’ll be on a daily basis, but it will be very limited, after work,” said Stephens.

In addition to the appointment of a new building commissioner, Wastewater Superintendent John Wonderly announced that he recently hired Jason Shelton, a former state employee at Salamonie Reservoir, to work at the waste treatment plant. Shelton has a Class 1 Wastewater Operator Certification and will work toward a CDL in the future.

“He likes our place and we like Jason,” said Wonderly. “Glad to have him.”

City Attorney Doug Lehman addressed changes to sewage billing policy, resulting from a State Board of Accounts audit. The “deposit account” was renamed the “deposit fund,” as the words have different legal meanings from the state’s perspective. The audit also suggested that the adjustment authority concerning cash refunds be formalized. A resolution to implement these changes was passed by the board.

“I anticipate that you will be looking at some additional changes to the policy sometime in the next 30 to 60 days,” said Lehman, referencing a change in the reconnection fee, the possibility of requiring deposits from people whose accounts have become delinquent, and tightening up collection procedures.

Finally, a request from Wabash Fire Chief Bob Mullett to extend light duty for a department employee recovering from surgery was approved until the first April meeting.

The Board of Public Works and Safety will meet next on Wednesday, March 19 at 9:30 a.m.

Posted on 2014 Mar 11