Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
Amber Mathieson's former post with the city of Cornelius gave her valuable experience to carry into her position as Falls City's new city administrator
September 18, 2012
FALLS CITY -- Amber Mathiesen describes herself as "occasionally a bit of an adventure seeker" when not at work.
"As far as hobbies, I do hunter-jumper horse back riding," Mathiesen, Falls City's new city administrator, said. "But I've done everything as crazy as bungee jumping to bull riding."
It's probably a good thing she has a sense of adventure, given that her second week on the job in Falls City didn't exactly go as planned.
Mathiesen said her first week, starting Aug. 20, she was able to settle in, get to know the town, city staff, the mayor and council members.
"The mayor and staff put together a great list of projects they had been working on, things to do, things they would like to see done in the future. That made entry to the job very easy," Mathiesen said.
That stood in stark contrast to the next week.
"We had that football field closure and a chlorine line break happen the same day," she said.
That had her juggling staff schedules to address both issues and out in the football field helping city public works staff figure out where the standing water that was pooling on the surface was coming from.
She also was part of the sensitive decision to close the field out of concern for player safety. There was a possibility the water was treated sewer water. That forced the first Falls City High School home football game to be played on an opponent's home field. In a town where the Friday night lights are one of the biggest draws in the community, that wasn't a call to be made lightly.
"The biggest challenge was navigating the closure of the football field, knowing how important it is to the community that the kids get to play in a safe place," Mathiesen said. "Yet there's the little more political side with the council and the school board of `Why are we closing this and what other options do we have?' But I think safety is most important."
The field flooding turned out to be a case of overwatering, but the city is taking measures to ensure the problem doesn't occur again.
"I feel like that is kind of all getting resolved," Mathiesen said. "All and all it's been a typical day in small government."
In the coming months, Mathiesen's "typical days" will be more busy as she takes over management of the finance department.
Keith Moes, the current finance director, will retire this fall and his duties will be placed on Mathiesen's plate. In her former post with the city of Cornelius, Mathiesen worked in the combined administrative/finance department, so the added duties won't be foreign.
"I'm certainly familiar with everything from accounts receivable to the budget," she said.
Finding more sources of financing is one of her primary responsibilities as the city looks for funding to tackle infrastructure upgrades for its sewer and water systems.
While the transition into the administrator job will keep her attention in Falls City, Mathiesen said she also understands the importance of reaching outside the city.
"I'm still making that effort to go out to various meetings that involve other agencies to keep Falls City connected and keep on top of resources that we can bring to our city," she said.