New Fort Scott city codes manager hired

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The city of Fort Scott has a new codes manager.

During their Tuesday meeting, Fort Scott City Commissioners were introduced to Stephen Euler, who has been chosen to fill the codes manager position city officials have been trying to fill in recent months.

Fort Scott Fire Chief Paul Ballou and Deputy Fire Chief Dave Bruner, who took on oversight of the codes department following the 2014 resignation of former longtime codes manager Brent Crays, introduced Euler. Bruner said Euler has "extensive codes enforcement experience."

"My wife and I have been looking to relocate to a small community for some time now," Euler said during the meeting.

Following the meeting, Euler, who is from Kansas City, Mo., said he was born in Illinois and retired from service in the U.S. Army in 1998. For the last eight years, he has worked as a legal investigator for the codes department in Kansas City, Mo.

"I was assigned dead-end cases where they can't find the owner," Euler said. "I did research to locate the owners."

On coming to Fort Scott, Euler said while his son attended Pittsburg State University he and his wife "used to drive through (Fort Scott) all the time." Euler said he grew up in a small town with a population of about 1,000 people.

"My wife was looking for a position and she told me about this one and I applied and interviewed and here I am," he said.

Euler said he will begin his new job duties Sept. 8.

Following Crays' resignation in late 2014, codes personnel began reporting to Ballou and Bruner who have continued to work in their respective positions as well as taking on some of Crays' duties. City Manager Dave Martin said Euler will report to Bruner and Ballou will also assist as Ballou is also "involved in codes enforcement."

"He (Euler) will strictly be overseeing codes enforcement," Martin said. "And we're excited because he brings a lot of experience to the community we've not had before in both historic buildings and codes enforcement."

Martin has said original plans were not to bring on a full-time codes person but after codes issues worsened within the last year, the decision was made to find a full-time codes manager. Martin has continued to emphasize the need for stronger codes enforcement in the city. A property improvement blitz in May organized by the Good Neighbor Action Team (GNAT) was the start of a local effort to address codes issues.

"After working heavily with the blitz and as we got more involved with codes enforcement, we saw how the city had allowed properties to dilapidate," he said Tuesday. "We realized it's not an overnight process, it's a long-term process. We've got to start holding people accountable."

Employee handbook updates

Commissioners approved personnel policy updates in the employee handbook. Human Resources Manager Deb Needleman said it has been several years since the employee manual has been revised and city officials wanted to bring it "up to date and compliant" with regulations.

"We've been working on it the last couple of years," City Manager Dave Martin said. "We looked at it and our attorney reviewed it. This is making sure the handbook has all the updated regulations we must follow as a city."

Needleman said the main changes to the handbook involve policies for tobacco and cell phone use. The tobacco policy states that "it is the policy of the city to prohibit smoking and use of any tobacco products on all city premises, including city vehicles and equipment, in order to provide and maintain a safe and healthy work environment for all employees."

The policy also states that exceptions are designated smoking areas which must be 10 feet from any door or window of city buildings.

The cell phone policy states "personal phone calls and texts should be limited to emergency situations only during work hours. Use of a personal cell phone may be made during breaks and lunch periods."

Employees whose job duties include driving and are issued a cell phone for work purposes shall not text or use their phone while driving, the policy states.

Needleman said according to the policy, employees must pull off to the side of the road and safely stop the vehicle before placing or accepting a call and/or texting. She also said employees who violate this policy and are issued traffic citations resulting from the use of a cell phone while driving will be liable for their actions.