By Gail Peckler-Dziki

Mike Murdock

Mike Murdock, public works supervisor in Salem Lakes, has put on one more hat – that of interim village administrator. The village board appointed him at the Sept. 9 board meeting.

Murdock took over as head of the highway department in 2006.

Some things changed when he took charge. “I tapped into employee talents and developed project structures that better served residents,” he said.

“Our most important job as public employees,” he said, “is customer service.”

Since that time, the highway department has expanded to include the sewer and water department and the Silver Lake public works. The Village of Salem Lakes has 82 miles of road to repair and maintain.

The former Silver Lake water treatment plant will become a pumping station and all wastewater will move to the Salem Lakes facility on Highway C, a facility that was intended to be regional at its inception years ago.

For the past week, since former village administrator Pat Casey left to take a city administrator position in Forest Lake, Minn., Murdock has spent time talking with each village employee.

“I didn’t spend 15 minutes with each one,” Murdock said, “(But) I’ve spent time each day talking to at least two employees. I want to get to know them, discover their strengths and talents.”

His supervisor model is one of a facilitator. “I believe every employee wants to do a good job and I want to help them do that.”

That is the model he used when he took leadership in the highway department and he has found it to be successful.

Cross training is part of that model. “Each public works employee has a particular skill, but is able to jump in where needed,” Murdock said. “One day, someone at the sewer plant could be working on grinder pumps and the next plowing snow. The highway guys could be mowing one day and cleaning sludge tanks the next.”

Murdock plans to lay the groundwork for cross training Village Hall employees.

Keeping clear lines of communication between employees and with the board is another road that leads to success, he said.

In addition to speaking with each office employee, Murdock plans to speak with each board member. He is starting by keeping the board up-to-date.

“I’ve worked at keeping the board informed about anything unusual that happens, Murdock said.

In turn, board members have already begun by reaching out to him.

Murdock said he realizes some people will wonder how he will manage the village administration and the public works department, while serving as a battalion chief with Salem Lakes Fire and Rescue and as a school board member.

“That’s a reasonable question,” Murdock said. “Right now, there have been a lot of late nights.”

Murdock has one year left on the Trevor-Wilmot Grade School board. “I really enjoy the School Board,” he said. “I have been making time for it, but I have one year left.” The interim position is in place until next April, when the board and Murdock will have some decisions to make.


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