City fills first hybrid firefighter position

Deputy clerk also hired


Clint Riese
News Editor

Two city of Forest Lake positions were filled as the City Council signed off on recommendations at its Feb. 24 meeting.

Chad Payment will fill the city’s first building official and firefighter position, while Dan Undem is the choice for the recently modified deputy city clerk position. Both men will report on Monday, March 24.

Following the retirement of building official Keith Wille last year, his former position was included in a wide-ranging staff reorganization the council approved. The plan’s primary purpose is to combine positions from the building and fire departments as a permanent way to bolster daytime fire call response.


As such, the city sought a versatile candidate for the first dual-position opening to be filled. Officials say Payment fits the bill.

Selected from more than 40 candidates, Payment is the building official for Lexington and Circle Pines, and a lieutenant with the Lexington Fire Department.

“Going into the process, obviously there’s a lot of thought and conversation and feelings about this particular position and the marriage of these functions and so on, but we’re happy to report that Chad really has experience in both of the areas we were looking at,” City Administrator Aaron Parrish said. “I really felt, going in, that we might have to develop (the employee) on one side or the other. Realistically, both candidates we brought in for second interviews did have both skill sets that we were looking for, and we feel that Chad would be a nice addition to the team.”

Payment’s background in technology helped his application stand out because the city hopes to move to mobile inspections and electronic plan reviews, Parrish said. Payment previously worked for Life Time Fitness developing CAD and architectural plans for code reviews, and he currently works as a technology consultant.

Mayor Chris Johnson said the hire is important because it addresses the “significant safety issue” of daytime fire coverage.

Payment’s position is one of four new dual-duty roles that will report to Fire Chief Gary Sigfrinius under the reorganization. In addition to firefighting, two will involve custodial work and the other building inspections.

“Hopefully we’ll be a model for other cities,” Johnson said.

Undem emerged from a field of 125 applicants for the deputy city clerk position. Seven interviewed a second time and underwent pre-employment testing.

Currently a marketing and communication specialist with the city of St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department, Undem also did contract work as a business liaison for the city of Lindstrom during the Highway 8 reconstruction project. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Minnesota-Duluth after graduating from Chisago Lakes High School in 1997.

The council recently removed election duties from the position’s job description and lowered its pay grade following the departure of former clerk Chantal Doriott. The city is contracting with Washington County for election services.

YMCA feasibility

Council Member Molly Bonnett updated the board on a YMCA feasibility study for which about 350 households will be surveyed this month. Interested parties are gauging the potential for a facility near Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming or in the Headwaters Development in Forest Lake, Bonnett said.

Residents as far as East Bethel, North Branch and the Big Marine Lake area will be part of the study, Bonnett said, leading Councilmen Mike Freer and Ben Winnick to express interest in a high percentage of those surveyed to be from Forest Lake.

Parrish stressed the preliminary nature of the study, and Council Member Susan Young described any financial discussions as being “almost light years away.”

The council will not meet Monday, March 10, as it pushed the meeting up to Tuesday, March 4.

  • The city council should survey business owners that already provide amenities that would be included in the government subsidized YMCA. An instance like this means that our city council and mayor must decide between government expansion or supporting businesses.