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BELLE FOURCHE, S.D. (AP) — This month marks the second full year a western South Dakota town has gone without a city engineer on staff.

The city of Belle Fourche hopes casting a wider net will improve the changes of acquiring more qualified candidates for the job, the Black Hills Pioneer reported.

“For a while we were getting quite a few,” said Mayor Gloria Landphere. “And then for a period of time, (the inflow of applicants) kind of fell off.”

The city has received between eight and 10 applications for the vacant position after former engineer Ryan Kavan resigned in May 2016.

Steve Nafus has been serving as the city’s interim engineer. He said the city has contracted third-party group to perform the engineering tasks at the city’s landfill until officials hire an engineer.

“There’s some really qualified people out there (who have applied) but they haven’t worked with municipal government type of engineering,” Nafus said.

Picking up the slack has been challenging for the city’s engineering department, he said.

“It’s overwhelming at times, especially when you’ve got a $4 million project going on,” Nafus said, referring to a sewer interceptor project. “It’s frustrating when you can’t get to the little things in the engineering (office) that you’d like to get done and are used to getting done. You’ve got to look at the bigger picture and some of the little stuff has to sit on the side burner.”

The city has advertised the position online, as well as with the South Dakota Municipal League, the American Public Works Association’s magazine, state universities and nearly 140 out-of-state schools.

“I’m very anxious to see, now that we’ve broadened the search, to see the response we get,” Landphere said.


Information from: Black Hills Pioneer,