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Public Works director bows out
MONROE - Director of Public Works Colin Simpson has called it quits after two years with the city of Monroe.

As of Jan. 8, Simpson will finish his work in Monroe. He has decided to resume work in the private sector for a construction company in his hometown of Rockford.

"I just decided to move on," Simpson said Wednesday.

Simpson began his tenure overseeing the Public Works Department on Dec. 16, 2013. He filled the position which had been empty for nearly three years after the retirement of longtime director Kelly Finkenbinder. Simpson was also a replacement for Alan Eckstein, who was hired in May of 2013 as supervisor of the wastewater treatment plant and its upgrade project. Eckstein was removed from his position in September of 2013 after discord among himself and co-workers regarding rumors that Eckstein referred to as "harassment" led the city to terminate his employment.

The Monroe Common Council has Simpson's resignation letter include on the agenda for its Tuesday meeting.

City Administrator Phil Rath was stunned to receive the note of resignation penned by Simpson and is not sure what prompted the decision.

"It was very much a surprise," Rath said.

Rath added that while the letter clearly indicates the intent to leave, it lacks context as to why. Rath said he could not be sure as to why Simpson would want to leave until he can conduct an exit interview.

For his part, Simpson said the reason was simple: He is looking for change in venue. He declined to comment when asked whether his decision to leave was prompted by issues between himself and other employees within the department.

Recently, Simpson met informally with Rath and alderwoman Brooke Bauman, chairwoman of the Monroe Salary and Personnel Committee. Rath said the meeting was a "discussion" which included how Simpson could perform better within his position. Suggestions were also made on how to improve the Public Works Department and ensure it operated more smoothly, Rath added.

Rath said the Salary and Personnel Committee will have to discuss its next steps regarding the director position. The group is next scheduled to meet on Tuesday prior to the council meeting and has the resignation letter listed as an agenda item. A decision would have to be made on whether to replace Simpson with a permanent employee, put an interim director in place for an unspecified time, or modify the responsibilities of current employees to accommodate the vacancy.