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Katherine Grandstrand, Forum Communications, Published October 03 2012

Dickinson city engineer bows out, citing huge workload

DICKINSON, N.D. – City Engineer Shawn Soehren tendered his resignation here Monday, citing a high workload and high stress.

Soehren told the City Commission he would like his last official day to be Oct. 15, but he will help a new city engineer with the transition.

“This has probably been the most difficult decision that I’ve ever had to make. So, thank you,” he said.

Commission President Dennis Johnson and others expressed their grief over Soehren’s resignation.

“I don’t think there’s anybody at our table that would view this as good news,” Johnson said. “You’re going to be missed.”

Commissioner Shirley Dukart asked Soehren if his departure was due to being overworked.

“Numerous issues, I guess,” Soehren said. “Certainly the workload and the feeling that I can’t satisfy everything.”

He has been with the city for almost 12 years, said Commissioner Carson Steiner, who was on the committee that hired Soehren.

The city’s growth has been a burden for the engineering department, which handles infrastructure, building inspection, planning and zoning and other development-related issues.

“I don’t think there’s any question that engineering and planning are – if we said this was fighting a fire this is the hottest spot on the fire,” Johnson said. “They have to deal with the most teeth. I don’t think there’s any question about that.”

Commissioner Klayton Oltmanns questioned what the city could do to improve the workload and conditions for the next city engineer.

Soehren has been working with City Administrator Shawn Kessel as well as other city staff to create those changes, but he said he did not wish to address it at the meeting.

Katherine Grandstrand writes for The Dickinson Press.

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