County hires: New faces, New positions

Effective March 1 there will be some new faces behind the titles. Tuesday, the Custer County Board of Supervisors hired Shawn Owens as the new Emergency Manager/Weed Superintendent. This is the first time the job description has covered both jobs. Current Weed Superintendentdent/Zoning Administrator Larry Gibbens has accepted a position with the Nebraska Board of Lands, the organization that manages and oversees the states’ educational land holdings. The supervisors offered and Owens accepted a salary of $32,500 plus benefits, with a raise of $500 at the end of successfully completely a six month probation period. Owens is currently employed by Valley Co. as the assistant emergency manager. When asked if he would consider absorbing both job descriptions, he said yes. “If weeds get out of control it can be an emergency,” chuckled one of the supervisors, but noting that in the face of an emergency, that is the job that would naturally take precedence. The cutback in state aid to counties was a factor in the decision to rework the jobs. “The way the state is cutting our budget, we are trying to combine this to save a little,” said Supervisor Don Olson. Owens currently lives in Arcadia but plans to move to Broken Bow, as the job requires he live closer in. He said he has done a lot of work in emergency management with Valley County and Region 26, including the North Loup Flood and 911 addressing. He says he is very excited about the job. Darci Tibbs will be the new Zoning Administrator and will continue as the Weed District secretary. She has worked for the county for the past three years doing secretarial and paperwork duties for the zoning and weed departments. She was offered, and accepted a salary of $30,000 plus benefits, with a $500 raise at the conclusion of successfully completing the six month probationary period. “It will take a year before we know how much time each of these jobs will take. This is new to the board,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Larry Higginbotham. Owens and Tibbs begin March 1. Pat Gerdis, the temporary emergency manager will stay on until the end of March and Gibbens will stay on until May 1. He starts his job with the state June 1. When asked if Owens would not need help with the paperwork because of the demands of both jobs, the board decided to wait until they see how the jobs spread out. “There is a lot of paperwork involved with Emergency Management, a tremendous amount of paperwork,” Custer County Clerk Conni Gracey noted.