Books and a few family photos lined the shelves but empty pegs were all that showed on bare walls in the Minot city engineer's office in mid-December.
Office decorating has had to wait while Rusten Roteliuk attends to the duties of the busy engineering department that he has been heading for the past few weeks.
Roteliuk is moving into the office being vacated by Waide Kritsky, who is using his leave time before retiring at the end of this month. Roteliuk, who has been the city's assistant engineer, now is interim city engineer until January, when he permanently assumes the position.
Jill Schramm/MDN •
Rusten Roteliuk spreads a city map across his desk Dec. 11. Roteliuk, acting city engineer, will become Minot’s city engineer Jan. 1.
Time has gone by in a whirlwind since April 2006 when he joined the engineering department, Roteliuk said. Although Kritsky had retirement in his sights even then, Roteliuk was too wrapped up in his existing job to think that he might be in line to head the department.
"This came a little bit faster than I was probably ready for," he said. "But I did learn a lot from him (Kritsky). It was so good to have someone with Waide's experience to work under for two years. I think that went a long ways toward my preparation for this job."
Kritsky was city engineer for about 4-1/2 years. He previously had been assistant city engineer for nearly 10 years prior to 1978.
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He said he hired Roteliuk because he had an inkling that the young man was up to the task of eventually replacing him. That inkling of Roteliuk's capability is a surety now.
"I don't think there's any doubt," Kritsky said, backing the city council's appointment of Roteliuk. "I am very, very comfortable with it."
Before he left, Kritsky had taken his assistant under his wing to show him the ropes of running the department. That training is paying off now as Roteliuk finds he needs to off-ramp from assistant to department head at close to highway speed.
"It's going to be challenging but I guess it's kind of nice to step into a prosperous time," he said. "You always want to move into a new position with the outlook being positive, and it's a very positive outlook for Minot right now."
As 2008 was reaching its close, the city had issued more than $79 million in building permits a record year.
Roteliuk got a taste of how growth is affecting the city when he filled in for the city planner when she was on leave recently.
The engineering department includes the traffic division, planning and building inspection as well as engineering on streets, sidewalks and buildings.
Roteliuk said he likes the team approach that Minot city staff members take toward their jobs. He expects to rely heavily on the team, knowing that there's a wealth of experience in some of the longer-term employees.
With expected retirements in a few years, the engineering department could have almost a complete turnover from the staff on board in 2006, Roteliuk said. That presses him to glean institutional knowledge from employees while he can.
A native of Sawyer, Roteliuk attended Minot State University and received his civil engineering degree from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks in 1993. He worked for Material Testing Services in Minot until 1998, when he opened an office in Grand Forks for the company. From 2002 to 2006, he worked for the City of Grand Forks.
Roteliuk said he and his wife, Lisa, also a Minot-area native, returned to Minot to be closer to family. Lisa is a speech pathologist at Minot State University, and they have a 1-year-son.
As assistant city engineer, Roteliuk has been in charge of day-to-day activities and making sure projects are progressing. As city engineer, he will be more involved in planning, budgeting and working with the city council and administration.
Some of the major projects planned in the next two years include the 20th Avenue Southeast reconstruction from Second Avenue near Kmart to 13th Street, where it will tie into 18th Avenue Southeast.
"That's one of those projects where there's a lot of public opinion because there's a lot of people that are affected along that avenue and there's a lot of people who drive it," he said. "Hopefully, we get the best compromise we can so that we get the best and safest project that we can."
Reconstruction of the 13th Street Southeast and U.S. 2 & 52 Bypass intersection is scheduled for 2010. The city also plans more improvements on the Eastside Water Distribution System and Puppy Dog Sewer in south Minot. The completion of the hike/bike trail along the U.S. Highway 83 Bypass also will be an accomplishment when it's finished, Roteliuk said.
"There's a lot of work sometimes many years of work that go into some of these large projects before you even get to break ground," he said. "There are some projects you hope for, you plan for, that don't even come about. Sometimes you put all this work into it and then change directions and go the other way because of changing economies, because of changing outlooks for business."
If there's one thing Roteliuk would like the public to better understand, it's the realities that keep from the city from doing more and doing it more quickly. Although people may never know just how much goes on behind the scenes to bring a project to fruition, Roteliuk hopes residents realize that money often is the biggest issue.
"We would all like to do more," he said. "We have to balance what we can do with the available funds. That's probably the biggest trick of this job."