BROOKINGS – Jeremy Linstad likes to challenge himself and learn new things, so he’s excited about taking the job as manager of the Brookings Street Department.
“I love learning new things,” he said. “Change or adapting or always learning, just so you don’t get set in your ways or complacent.”
His first day was Jan. 4, and he’s been learning the ropes ever since.
“I can definitely say I’m learning something new every day,” Linstad said.
New to job, not to town
Originally from Fargo, Linstad moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota, where he married Nicole, now an instructor at South Dakota State University. They have three kids: Morgan, Riley and Kendal, ranging in age from 11 to 15; and a black Labrador named Bella.
Linstad took a circuitous route to his current job.
He attended Northwest Tech in Moorhead, Minnesota, for television production. Then he went back to school to study computer aided design and drafting (CADD), “like architects use for blueprints,” he said.
“When I was doing that, I was actually in facility management and kind of found a passion and love for that, so I pretty much stayed in that role ever since, until this one,” Linstad said.
He was working at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks when he found out the Swiftel Center was looking for help.
“I knew Tom Richter and when they had an opening, he called me asking if there was anyone interested and I said, ‘I’d love to take a look.’ Next thing I know, we’re moving the family down,” Linstad said.
He worked for the Swiftel Center for six years.
“I was the associate executive director, so pretty much oversaw the day-to-day operations” including the capital improvement plan budget and “the larger, more technical shows that would come in, like the concerts; I would be the primary person coordinating … those different things with the team,” Linstad said.
When he heard about the job in the Street Department, he talked to colleagues who thought he’d be a great fit.
Some of his past work crosses over to his new job, like experience working with budgets, hearing input from the public, managing a similar-sized staff, and working in overall operations and management.
“I love looking at different efficiencies and technologies and there’s design and concept of how the city’s growing with their public works department and where they’re going,” Linstad said.
Switching jobs always means change.
“I would say the biggest thing is being out in the community a lot more than I was before,” Linstad said. At the Swiftel, “(I was) in a facility and usually didn’t leave that facility, whereas here I’m out and about in the community and I’m involved.”
Running the Street Dept.
The Street Department is responsible for street maintenance, including snow removal, asphalt repairs, and traffic safety and signs. They work with the Engineering Department on chip seal projects.
Weather determines what he and his crew do each day.
“Not used to having rain in January,” he said. “I was out at 3 in the morning checking the roads to make sure … if we needed to dispatch the trucks to go out there and sand, which at the time, we did, to make sure everybody was as safe as we could (make) for the morning commute.”
“We’ve had a handful (of snow events), and not one’s been the same. Mother Nature decides what she wants to do; every time a little bit different. Just pray as much as we can and then adjust as we need to after each event,” he said.
Brookings hasn’t had a lot of snow this winter, which is helping to keep the Street Department’s budget on target, he added.
Linstad is grateful there hasn’t been a lot of snow because it gives his team the opportunity to work on hauling rock for summer projects, which saves costs.
Other summer time duties are noxious weeds and mosquito control.
“To me, the two seasons in South Dakota are either snow or mosquitos,” Linstad said.
‘Being a sponge’
Because he transferred over from the Swiftel Center, Linstad is taking the time to learn how things work at the Street Department.
“Right now, all I’m looking at doing is just learning the current operations, just being a sponge and absorbing everything they do and make sure that we don’t miss anything for the citizens or the community,” Linstad said.
“We got a great team, the guys are all awesome and I’m asking questions,” he said. He’s getting feedback from the team about what they need “to get the job done safely and efficiently” but also do it in a financially responsible way.
He has 13 full-time employees right now; Linstad figures at least three have tallied 30 years or close to it.
“Lot of knowledge, lot of experience,” Linstad said.
Longtime employee Marty Hendricks retired in June after about 18 years with the city. That means Linstad is looking at some restructuring to fill the duties Hendricks did.
Another change he will be dealing with is the city moving toward a Public Works structure where the Street Department, Engineering Department and Solid Waste Department will come under the direction of the newly formed Public Works director. Linstad expects the director will be chosen in the near future.
Linstad expects “some learning curves” when the change happens but thinks all the departments will work together very well.
“I think, all in all, the different departments right now that are being combined all work closely together and have a good collaboration, so I think it should go pretty seamlessly,” Linstad said.
Overall, he’s enjoying the new job.
“I’m excited to be a part of it,” Linstad said.
Contact Jodelle Greiner at [email protected]