Public Works, Parks Departments still need a few more summer workers

Paul Fiechtner
Public Works Director

Nancy Edmonds Hanson

More than 100 seasonal workers have committed to working with Moorhead’s departments of public works and parks and recreation for the summer. This year, on the heels of higher wages, Public Works Director Paul Fiechtner and Parks and Recreation Director Holly Heitkamp report that filling the temporary slots has been considerably easier than in recent years. Yet a smattering of openings still remain for those looking to spend three months keeping the city presentable.
This year’s employment picture has been considerably brighter for summer staffers – mostly high school and college students, supplemented with a good number of retirees who enjoy working outside in milder weather. Hourly wages now range from $13 to $22 – a substantial bump from where they’ve been in years past.
The public works director explains that the raises emerged from a study by his department, Parks and the Finance Department in 2023. They found that Moorhead’s pay scale was lagging behind those of Fargo and West Fargo. Bringing the city’s amounts into a more competitive range, he says, has boosted the number of applicants to a more comfortable level.
Fiechtner, who was named to head public works last July, says his department has hired the vast majority of the 85 seasonal helpers who come on board each year to supplement the services provided by the department’s 54 full-time employees. Besides manicuring hundreds of acres of public grass to keep public areas presentable, the summer employees also help with street maintenance, where potholes and cracks must be filled to maintain the smooth asphalt surface, and forestry, with tasks ranging from collecting brush and trimming boulevard and park trees to helping remove ash trees in the fight against the emerald ash borer.
Twenty of the seasonal workers, he reports, are needed to keep the grass manicured on city-owned property. That not only includes The Meadows and Village Green golf course, but some 52 parks, public rights of way along the roads, and portions of the river corridor flanking the 18 miles of walking and biking trails.
The weather is a major factor in determining workload. “With our open spring, we’ve already mowed twice,” he reported Monday. “In a more normal year, we don’t even start until the middle of May.” That could have been a problem, since many of the mowers are still in school; but the pool of willing retirees, he says, has helped keep the grass under control through the last weeks of the semester.
“Weather always has a big impact on our workload,” he points out. “More rain means more mowing. A windstorm that damages trees increases the workload in forestry. The Christmas ice storm caused a lot of damage, too. We operate as a team, pitching in to cope with those occasional events.”
While most positions are filled, he encourages others to apply for jobs that remain, as well as possible replacement of departing workers.
Public Works maintains the city’s park lands and trails. The Parks Department, however, conducts a spring hiring campaign of its own to fill dozens of jobs in its recreation programs. According to director Heitkamp and her managers, most of those positions – ranging from lifeguards to people who coordinate adaptive recreation, art, preschool, tennis, baseball and flag football, as well as run neighborhood rec centers and special events – have now been filled.
Recreation specialist Trevor Magnuson reports that youth athletics, as well as adaptive and wading pool positions, are fully staffed for the summer. However, applications are still being accepted for flag football and volleyball, with interviews to start in July.
Training begins next week for those hired for the neighborhood park programs, art classes and aquatics, according to recreation program supervisor Melissa Discher. The majority of swim instructors from last year plan to return when the pool opens, and eight new lifeguards have been certified. “We are looking forward to a safe and fun summer at the Municipal Pool,” she says.
All positions at the city’s two public golf courses and the Hjemkomst Center have also been filled. Marybeth Suplee, a recreation specialist, notes the department is currently interviewing for a few more jobs handling canoe and kayak rentals and special events.
For more information on the remaining seasonal job openings, go to and search for “spring and summer seasonal positions.”

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