MARSHALL - They were going to renew his employment contract, but on Tuesday, Lyon County commissioners ended up accepting the county public works director's resignation instead.
Public Works Director Suhail Kanwar has accepted a public works position in McKenzie County in northwestern North Dakota, said Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg.
"Obviously, it's going to be a loss," Stomberg said.
"It was a hard decision to make," Kanwar said Tuesday. It will be especially hard to leave as Lyon County is gearing up for a large number of road and bridge projects. But, he said, "it was an opportunity for me and my family."
Kanwar said he's excited about that opportunity, although it will be a big job. McKenzie County is in the middle of the North Dakota oil boom and needs to expand public infrastructure like roads to keep up with increased demands, he said.
County commissioners had conducted a performance review of Kanwar at their last regular meeting. Stomberg said at that time, commissioners had decided to renew Kanwar's employment contract and had planned Tuesday's meeting to approve the renewal. However, with Kanwar accepting the McKenzie County position, "Instead of doing the reappointment, we're doing the acceptance of his resignation," Stomberg said.
Besides accepting Kanwar's resignation, board members also approved an addendum to his current contract. The addendum extended the contract's end date to May 31. Stomberg said the change allowed time for Kanwar to give notice without starting a whole new contract.
Stomberg said the extension also gave the board time to decide how to fill the vacancy. Assistant County Engineer Aaron VanMoer is a licensed engineer and a good candidate to serve as interim public works director, he said.
Commissioner consensus was to take formal action at the first meeting in May.
Kanwar said Tuesday that he's enjoyed working with the county and is proud of a lot of the projects he's worked on. In the five years he's served Lyon County, Kanwar said he's helped secure grant funds for projects from safety improvements and highway reconstructions and the development of Twin Lakes Park and a regional trail connecting the cities of Marshall and Lynd with Camden State Park.
"That project was in the works for years and years," Kanwar said. "I can't take the credit," he said, but he liked working together with all the different groups involved in the project.
Kanwar said he's also worked to emphasize safety improvements on county highways. Some of those projects have included improving visibility at the intersection of Lyon County Road 7 and U.S. Highway 14, realigning the intersection of Lyon County Road 14 and County Road 54 and widening the shoulders along County Road 10.
"County Road 10 is going to be a really good road once it's finished," Kanwar said. He said he hoped the county will continue to invest in long-term projects like safety improvements and regional development like trails and parks.
Kanwar said he was thankful for getting to work with a long list of people, from Lyon County commissioners to county staff, the county park board, Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes and city staff.
"The success I had came through many other people," he said. And in the members of the county works department, he said, "I had a very well-trained group of professionals. They deeply care about county operations and people."