Leader Blues

Monday, April 23, 2007

TOP STORY >>Ex-engineer back with city

IN SHORT: Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim hires Jay Whisker to fill position as city administrator.

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville’s former city engineer, Jay Whisker, was introduced at Thursday’s city council meeting as the new city administrator.

Jacksonville has been without a city administrator since mid-2004 when Murice Green retired.

In making the announcement, the mayor said he had found it easier to do the job of the administrator than to try to explain or train someone for the position. “It was hard to find someone who knew about all aspects of our city and able to work with the public. I feel Jay has the insight from his six years as city engineer to fill the position,” the mayor said.

Whisker had resigned in late 2006, taking a job with a Little Rock engineering firm. “When you are hired as a city engineer you just don’t have the opportunity to go up or move,” he said at the time. The Little Rock job offered him a chance for advancement.

In accepting the new job, Whisker said that he’s missed the city and he’ll enjoy not making that commute to Little Rock. He starts Monday and will also oversee the engineering department until a new city engineer is hired. Whisker had been serving as a consultant for the city in the engineering area since his departure.

As city engineer, Whisker’s salary was $63,592, as city administrator he’ll be making $66,000. Top salary for the engineer position is $67,207, and $71,080 for the administrator’s job.

The city is also trying to fill the human-resources director position, which has been vacant for almost a year when Charlie Brown retired. “We’ve interviewed about eight to 10 people for the position, but just haven’t found the right fit yet,” the mayor said.

In other council business:

- Aldermen condemned nine properties. The owners have 60 days to either bring the properties up to code or tear them down and remove them.

After 60 days the city will pay to have the structures torn down and place a lien against the properties.
No one spoke for or against the condemnation at a public hearing right before the aldermen passed the ordinance condemning the properties.

According to the ordinance, the property owners failed to repair their respective properties, despite repeated notices and demands, and that the structures present public health and safety hazards.

Three of the properties are burned-out homes. The condemned properties include 104 Cross St., owned by Leon and Jennifer Brooks; 105 Pike Ave., owned by James L. Mixon; 128 Central Ave., owned by Deerco, Inc.; 130 Joiner Ave., ow