“It’s a great position. I am glad to be here,” Etling said.
Etling said he didn’t necessarily seek out a position with the county, but rather ran into Jim Fields, lead engineer with county highway department, recently.
“We had some discussions and it was a mutual situation really. He needed some help, and I wanted to help in any way I could, so after an interview it was made official,” Etling said.
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According to Fields, Etling brings a lot to the table with his expansive experience with the village.
“There was a need. We just had three people in our department retire as of June, and Norm has plenty of experience to offer,” Fields said.
Earning an annual salary of $82,000 plus benefits, Etling said he’s happy with the parameters of his new position despite the cut in pay from the $103,000 he was bringing in from Shiloh.
“I get all the same benefits as any other county employee,” he said.
Turning 65 on Oct. 6, Etling said he hasn’t, nor does he plan to retire anytime soon. He hasn’t filed paperwork to collect his Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund pension, because he “glad” to still be working, he said.
Beginning his new post on Oct. 1, Etling said he’s still learning the ropes.
“I’m happy to contribute. Right now I’ve been working closely with the head of the maintenance department, Richie Meile, inspecting roads and seeing what I can do to help with that,” he said.
Meile also serves as a Ward 1 alderman for the City of O’Fallon.
“Because he’s an engineer, he’s going to be of the utmost value to me because there’s things I need him to use his experience on. I have experience and the know how too, but I need his backing,” Meile said.
I really am looking forward to sharing my knowledge of St. Clair County and engineering experience with the young engineers at the county.
What the jobs entails
Last week, Meile said he and Etling were out inspecting roads like East O’Fallon Drive in Caseyville and several roads in the area of Floraville near Millstadt, Smithton and Paderborn.
“The county has 245 miles of county roads and 65 bridges to maintain and oversee. And I have to keep it all mowed and plowed, that’s why we need Norm to help,” Meile said.
Etling said he’s working too with Motor Fuel Tax and developing a program to help the townships.
“I’m working right now with motor fuel tax (oversight) and the townships that the county oversees. So I’ve been talking to all the road district township supervisors to see what the plan is for motor fuel,” Etling said.
The county highway department oversees the 19 road districts that make up about 618 miles of roadway and 74 bridges. Funding from MFT collection goes to the Illinois Department of Transportation, then trickles down, and the county highway department then disburses the funding to the townships it oversees.
Fields said the county highway department is required to file a report annually with IDOT detailing the township’s forecasted expenditures for the coming year.
“It’s part of our role in the management of MFT funds. So we review and then report the materials like oil and chip for resurfacing roads, path materials and rock, for some examples, that the township supervisors anticipate needing. We oversee that. So Norm is meeting with the all the township supervisors for this review,” Fields said.
Right man for the job
Fields looks forward to all that Etling has to offer in his 40-plus years in the field of engineering.
“It’s a lot of the same thing in this position that I’ve done before — inspections, maintenance of roads, going out and talking to people,” Etling said.
The county highway department is located at 1415 N. Belt West in Belleville.
“It’s a funny thing actually, I was heading to work when I realized I was heading toward the Village Hall (in Shiloh), but I quickly turned around to re-route toward Belleville for my new job. I guess I had worked for Shiloh for so long, it was just habit,” Etling said.
After college at the University of Missouri at Rolla and getting married in 1973, Etling said he worked as a construction engineer for more than 15 years.
“I definitely had the government and the field experience from very early on,” he said.
In 1990, Etling began his five-year stint for the City of Belleville, also in engineering — then his 21 years in Shiloh began in 1995.
“I really am looking forward to sharing my knowledge of St. Clair County and engineering experience with the young engineers at the county,” he said.
Etling said, “to sort of paraphrase Mark Twain when he was incorrectly reported to be dead, ‘the report of my death was grossly exaggerated,” I want to say, ‘the rumor of my retirement was greatly exaggerated.’”
His wife, Debbie Etling, who was excited for her husband’s retirement months earlier has changed her tune a bit, according to Etling.
“I always try to do what I can for the lovely Mrs. E, but I think, she’s happy I got a new job because she has this retirement routine, and I didn’t quite fit into it like she hoped,” Etling said with a chuckle.