New job brings unexpected challenges

New Bonduel municipal director starts as pandemic ‘explodes’
Jesse Rankin, standing outside his Bonduel office, began as director of municipal operations in Bonduel shortly before the state issued Safer at Home orders. That changed how his department worked, but the work went on, he said.

Carol Ryczek | NEW Media
Carol Ryczek

BONDUEL — There’s usually a bit of an adjustment period when starting a new job. When that period occurs during a statewide shutdown and worldwide pandemic, it makes the adjustment even more challenging.

Fortunately for Jesse Rankin, the new director of municipal operations for the village of Bonduel, his new job is something of a homecoming and that allowed him to step comfortably into his new role.

Rankin is originally from Bonduel and a Shawano Community High School graduate. He and his wife, Kristine, were high school sweethearts and returned to the area two years ago to live in Shawano.

Rankin said his familiarity with both communities make him a good fit for the position. He started the job with pride in his village, he said, and he wants to maintain that pride. “I want to do the right thing to make Bonduel the best it can be,” he said.

Rankin’s professional background includes 20 years in the military and experience in government contracting. That experience helps him manage the many facets of municipal operations, he said.

As municipal operations director, Rankin overseees the infrastructure of the village, including water and sewers, roads upkeep and snow removal. Most of that work is done outside, he said.

He also works with the village zoning commission and with state engineers on state roads that go through the village.

“It’s a pretty encompassing job,” he said.

He began March 5. Shortly after that, “the pandemic exploded and everything went sideways,” he said.

He described the process as a “lot of hurdles to overcome. There is no handbook to tell you about a pandemic,” he said.

His new job started with identifying what needed to be done for the community and how to do it safely, limiting exposure to his staff and taking such steps as rotating shifts. By rotating schedules, he reduced the likelihood of staff working side by side.

However, he said, there are times when schedules have to overlap. “I can’t send a man down a manhole with only one person,” he said.

For the future, he said he hopes to help the village develop a commercial district, maintain water and sewers to current subdivisions and expand them to rural areas, he said.

A major concern for the village will be the two-year upgrade of state Highway 117, which runs north and south through Bonduel’s downtown. Although the state Department of Transportation will do the work, the village will need to coordinate with them, redirect traffic and help the many visitors who travel through Bonduel find their way.

Work on the north side of the street will be started in 2021, and on the south side in 2023, he said. The south side project will include placing new sewer and water lines, adding to the scope of the project.