By Mary Macedo, Neighb News Correspondent
The Fairhaven Board of Public Works met on Monday, 7/11, to interview candidates for the Water System Maintenance Craftsman/ Operator position.
The board first interviewed Jonathan Bowers, a current employee of the Fairhaven Water Department. Mr. Bowers addressed the board by stating his experience with everyday water maintenance, as well as his experience with heavy equipment, such as the backhoe, which he has been licensed on for two years.
The BPW had a few questions and concerns regarding Mr. Bowers as a candidate. The board’s main concern was licensing. The Operator position requires a Grade 3 Water License. Mr. Bowers holds a Grade 1 Water License, and the board questioned whether or not he was qualified for the position.
Board members cited his great dedication to the Fairhaven community, his years of work experience, and his willingness to pursue his Grade 3 license. The board saw him as a strong potential candidate for the job.
“He is a hard worker and I’d hate to see him bypassed,” said BPW member Kathy Sturtevant.
Other than licensing, there were no other major concerns with Mr. Bowers for the job.
Before deciding, the board also interviewed Jeffrey Furtado.
Mr. Furtado, currently the Foreman for the Fairhaven Sewer Department began his interview by stating his reasons for pursuing the job. He said he wanted to give this new position a shot, to make a change for himself and the water department.
The board also had concerns regarding Mr. Furtado’s qualifications, as well as concerns regarding his current position as Foreperson.
Board membes said they felt that Mr. Furtado was a well-rounded, hard worker, citing his 13 years as foreperson in the Sewer Department, plus experience in the Water Department,
Despite his work ethic and experience, Mr. Furtado’s licensing was the main concern for board.
The issue of active licensing was brought up by the board multiple times throughout the meeting. Mr. Furtado has had a Grade 3 Water license in Rhode Island, since 1999, but it is currently inactive.
The board questioned what the process may be to get that license transferred to Massachusetts, as well as activated again.
Mr. Furtado told the board he was not sure what the process might be to transfer his RI license to Mass.
Another concern was Mr. Furtado’s current position in the Sewer Department.
Board member Brian Wotton questioned Mr. Furtado on who was qualified and prepared to fill Mr. Furtado’s current position if the board were to hire him for the new job.
Mr. Furtado said he believed that there were people in the Sewer Department that were capable of filling his shoes.
The deciding factor came down to the fine print of the union contract itself.
Vice Chair Robert “Hoppy” Hobson said, “[Furtado is] a very good employee and is dedicated to the town, but the contract says to take within the department.”
Chairperson, Michael Ristuccia read from the contract that states qualified employees within the division of the greatest seniority should be considered first for job openings, but if that person is not qualified then the job can be opened to other departments.
After much debate over the statements in the union contract, the board agreed that both Mr. Furtado and Mr. Bowers were not qualified for the position of Water System Maintenance Craftsman/Operator. Both candidates would need to pursue their Grade 3 licensure, which both candidates were willing to do.
With all the information the board had received, Mr. Hobson made a motion stating, “In my opinion I’d like to hire Jonathan Bowers.”
The motion passed.