Hemeyer pulled off sewer project, replaced by Solis

At 7 p.m. on Monday evening, Marathon City Manager Mike Puto sent an email to council naming Planning Director George Garrett as Deputy City Manager. The memo specifically mentions the city’s Utility and Public Work departments and states Garrett will oversee day-to-day operations for both.

Although both Public Works Manager Carlos Solis and Utilities Manager Zully Hemeyer will keep their positions, Garrett will be responsible for ultimate personnel hiring and firing decisions, budget approvals including contracts and expenditures, and ensuring timely operations and delivery of service.

“I know what George [Garrett] is capable of, and I need the help,” Puto said.

Garrett said he’s happy to step up.

“My most important priority is opening up the lines of communication at City Hall,” Garrett said. “We want the utility department to operate as efficiently as it can.”

Earlier this year, Marathon City Council discussed hiring a deputy city manager, however that dissolved into a renewed effort to hire a city manager to replace Puto who announced he would depart by the end of 2015.

In a separate email on Monday, Puto named Solis as the designated project manager for the completion of the force main associated with the Marriott hotel project; a project previously overseen by Hemeyer.

At the last meeting, the Marathon City Council approved a $981,564 contract with Layne Heavy Civil Inc. to install a pump station and force main to serve that hotel and other commercial projects in the wastewater district. That contract has not been executed and will be raised again at the council meeting on Tuesday, July 14.

“We are re-evaluating,” Puto said.

Both Puto and Garrett said city staff is working on the urgent matter as the Marriott is expected to open in late July or early August.

Marathon City Councilmen Dan Zieg and Bill Kelly said Garrett’s appointment is good for the city.

“George [Garrett] is a good fit,” Kelly said. “He’s served under other city managers so he has a lot of experience.”

“This relieves Mike [Puto] of a lot of stress, it shares some of the burden,” Zieg said. “Plus, it puts to rest all those ‘he said, she said’ accusations to rest. We’ll know what’s factual, like how much salinity is in our treated wastewater.”

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