“We had an outstanding group of applicants,” Mayor Bill Hereford said. “Each had great qualifications and experience. This will be a very difficult decision, but I’m delighted we’ve attracted such high-quality applicants.”
Hereford said the city hopes to hire a city engineer to move day-to-day engineering in-house and save the city money. The new city engineer will also be a department head for planning and zoning for the city. No salary has been set for the city engineer position.
Five candidates were originally scheduled for interviews Friday, however, Hereford said one candidate withdrew his application Thursday.
The candidates in the order they interviewed in included Essam Ahmad of Brundidge, Karen Phillips of Moody, Fred Gauntt III of Pell City, and Joe Hutto Jr. of Pell City.
Ahmad has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s degree in computer and information sciences. He is a licensed professional engineer.
Ahmad has more than 25 years of engineering experience across the county and internationally. In June, he completed an approximately 20 month-long assignment in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, as a project manager, senior engineer, team leader and technical advisor to the general manager at the Center of Waste Management in Abu Dhabi.
Ahmad said he is familiar with planning and zoning, possesses a wealth of experience in planning, designing and managing the execution of engineering projects, has city administration experience with the city of Brundidge and has qualified to testify as an expert witness in his field.
Ahmad said he has supervisory experience and has formulated large teams internationally.
Phillips has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Although she does not have her professional engineering license, she said she plans to sit for the test in April.
Phillips is public works director and animal control director for the city of Talladega.
She said she has experience with water and wastewater systems, supervisory experience and some planning and zoning experience.
Phillips said she greatly enjoys solving and fixing problems.
Gauntt has a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in engineering. He is a licensed professional engineer.
Gauntt works for Shelby County and has designed and managed the construction of numerous roadway, intersection, bridge and capital improvement projects.
Gauntt said his knowledge of geotechnical and storm water issues is strong, however he has not had much experience dealing with wastewater or planning and zoning, but would be able to pick up on those quickly.
Gauntt said he has supervisory experience and can bring to the team a wide range of knowledge including coordination experience with cities on significant projects.
Hutto has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Although he does not have his professional engineering license, he said he feels he could achieve professional licensing within a year-and-a-half or less.
Hutto is acting president Hutto Construction, a family business he owns with two of his cousins.
Hutto said he has experience in engineering design pertaining to the municipal arena as well as construction and construction management of projects, such as water and sewer conveyance systems, storm water, roadwork, soils and other areas.
Hutto said he is not familiar with planning and zoning matters, but would be able to acclimate quickly. He also has supervisory experience.
“We had a good range of candidates who interviewed,” Councilwoman Dot Wood said. “I’d like to fill the position quickly so we can get it in the budget and start saving the city money.”
Councilman James McGowan said he was pleased with the selection of candidates and the resumes of the candidates.
He said the council may hold a second interview for some of the candidates who interviewed Friday.
Councilman Greg Gossett said he was also happy with the candidates interviewed and thinks the council will likely have a second interview process for some of the candidates.
“It is not a position that must be filled immediately,” he said. “We want to make sure we get the right candidate, and that he or she is the right fit for that department.”
Councilmen Donnie Todd and Donnie Guinn were not present at Friday’s interviews.
Hereford said the council took no action and no date for second interviews or hiring has been set.