The city of Fort Smith announced the hiring of two new department heads on Monday (May 14), filling the sanitation and streets/traffic control department slots. The city also filled the long vacant public relations post.
The sanitation position has been open since Fort Smith City Administrator Carl Geffken terminated the employment of former director Mark Schlievert on May 10, 2017. Schlievert’s termination made him the second consecutive firing from the embattled department’s top post after Baridi Nkokheli was terminated by then-Acting City Administrator Jeff Dingman for insubordination in December 2015.
The decision on Schlievert surrounded the city’s controversial recycling issue, which, for three years starting in October of 2014, found the department trashing over 91% of its recyclables at the Fort Smith Landfill without telling the public. Most of this occurred outside of Schlievert’s watch. Dingman, who was in the Acting City Administrator post following retirement of the late Ray Gosack, hired Schlievert in April 2016 before Geffken’s first day on the job.
The new sanitation director will be Kyle Foreman. Foreman is a graduate of East Carolina University and the business service supervisor for the city of Irving, Texas. His previous experience includes a three-year stint as operations supervisor for Waste Industries in Wilson, N.C. Foreman will start on June 25. His annual salary will be $75,000. Benefits include cost sharing on health insurance; 401(a) retirement plan with a city contribution of 5% gross earnings as well as a 457 deferred compensation plan in which the city will contribute $1,200 annually; 10 days of paid vacation; sick leave; $5,400 annual car allowance; and reimbursement for relocation expenses up to $5,000 with receipts.
George Allen was hired as the city’s streets/traffic control director. Allen’s first day will be May 29, 2018. He is replacing interim director Matt Meeker, who will return to his role in the engineering department under Director Stan Snodgrass. Geffken said Meeker “did a wonderful job as interim director and the Board, the Mayor, and the Administration thank him for stepping up when asked” and “accepting the responsibility.” Meeker replaced Greg Riley, who accepted a position in April as the public works director for the city of Muskogee, Okla.
Allen comes to Fort Smith from Kissimmee, Fla., where he worked as the assistant public works director of operations. Previous street department supervisory experience also includes two years with the city of Boca Raton, Fla.; five years with the city of Miami Gardens, Fla.; and six years with the city of Deerfield Beach, Fla.
He graduated in 2012 from Miami’s Barry University with a bachelor’s degree in public administration. Allen’s annual salary will be $86,528, and the remainder of his compensation package will include cost sharing of health insurance; 401(a) retirement plan with a city contribution of 5% gross earnings as well as a 457 deferred compensation plan in which the city will contribute $1,200 annually; 15 days of vacation from day one; sick leave; reimbursement for relocation expenses up to $5,000 with receipts; and annual car allowance of $5,400.
Also Monday, the city named Karen Santos the public relations manager. The city hasn’t employed a role similar to PR manager since Tracy Winchell, who was laid off in October 2015 after 12 years with the city. Santos began work on Monday. Santos will receive an annual salary of $62,000 and will be eligible for cost sharing of health insurance, enrollment in the 457 deferred compensation plan, and sick leave/vacation.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and political science from Oklahoma State University. Her experience includes a decade in news for outlets like AETN, NBC Radio, and KARN; 16 years in communications with notable positions as director of communications for the U.S. Department of Education from 1999-2003 and director of the “Ready to Learn” service at PBS; and seven years in private consultancy.