Former utility worker explains decision to change
To the Editor:
Greencastle's population went over 10,001 which reclassified it as a DSL (Distribution System Large). The plant operators had to then obtain the license for that type of system. Then IDEM determined that the well water was under the direct influence of the surface water (Big Walnut). That is when the water treatment plant had to be reclassified as a "WT-5." It had nothing to do with the population increase. It does not make the water bad, it just means you have to treat it differently. Therefore you also have to get a different license in order to do that. Indiana has a shortage of people holding this license, and those with it are being paid accordingly by their employers.
I worked at Greencastle Utilities for 16 years. I started as a meter reader/distribution laborer. I then moved into maintenance, from there I merged into the meter shop. I then became a licensed plant operator. I obtained every license necessary to do this. In the past years, I was assigned many special tasks and have filled in for others doing line "locates" and service orders. I fixed malfunctioning meters and performed all profiling of meters. I obtained the licenses of ASO, Wastewater Class 1, DSM, DSL, WT3 and WT5 -- all of which I acquired upon my first attempt. Besides the head of the Utilities Department, I was the only WT5 licensed operator for the Greencastle Utilities. I am very knowledgeable in backflow prevention and have a current construction inspection certification. I also have a valid State of Indiana Plumbing License.
Instead of being promoted, I felt as though I was being held down in my current employment with Greencastle. Months prior to me leaving the Utilities Department, I was being assigned tasks such as painting fire hydrants and fixing meter pits. As a licensed plant operator, I should have been doing lab testing and water sample collecting. I was being paid the minimum WT5 operator salary. With all my qualifications and certifications you would think I should have been paid and classified as the lead plant operator. I possess higher licenses and certifications than three of my current supervisors whose salaries were on a higher scale. I repeatedly approached supervisors and inquired about being allowed to perform appropriate plant operator duties. These inquiries fell on deaf ears. I also questioned the department supervisor about monetary compensation for qualifications and was told that I wouldn't be considered for any increase of pay.
Contrary to what had been previously stated in the City Council article in the Banner Graphic, I stayed with the Greencastle utilities for eleven months after passing my WT5 test. I exhausted many avenues trying to secure my future at Greencastle. Though it was never verbalized to me, the consensus of the administration at City Hall was that I was a local guy who had worked for the city for 16 years, and I just wouldn't go anywhere else to find another job. I felt as though I had peaked in my position with Greencastle utilities and therefore had to seek employment elsewhere to be allowed to perform the tasks that I was qualified to do. I am currently employed by a non-profit utility company (again contrary to the information given in the Banner Graphic article).
Leaving the Utilities Department really wasn't about the money, I wanted a better opportunity to advance my career and use my knowledge. And yes, that does mean that I am being paid accordingly. I do appreciate the training and opportunities Greencastle provided me.