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Former assistant city planner to rejoin city staff

After a nine-month absence, Rita Albrecht will return to City Hall.

Albrecht left her position as assistant city planner in August to join the Headwaters Regional Development Commission as a development specialist.

But she is now going to rejoin city staff as Bemidji's community development director and will be responsible for providing professional planning and development services to the city.

"It will be nice to have her back on board," Mayor Richard Lehmann said. "She will be effective as the community development director."

He said Albrecht's experience and abilities with grant-writing, especially, will be appreciated in her new position.

Albrecht's first day back with the city will be May 27, according to City Manager John Chattin.

"I'm passionate about the Bemidji community," Albrecht said. "I enjoyed working with the city before and I'm looking forward to going back."

She served as assistant city planner for about 2.5 years, Albrecht said, adding that she hadn't intended to return to the city when she joined the HRDC. There, she was able to focus on regional planning efforts and offered developmental assistance, focusing mainly on community development, grant administration and local planning.

"I really enjoyed working at the HRDC," she said. "It's a great organization."

She joined the city as its assistant city planner after working with the Bemidji State University Center for Research and Innovation in program management. She has bachelor's degrees in geography and social studies education from BSU.

She said she is looking forward to working in the community through the community development position.

"I think the community is looking forward to having someone who will pay attention to current issues and look at the future issues that will affect the community," Albrecht said.

The position will help move Bemidji forward, she noted.

More than 20 applications were received for the position, Chattin said. Four people were interviewed and Albrecht was offered the position last week.

Albrecht will be responsible for managing the city's community and economic development programs and maintaining communications between the city and Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board. She also will work with the Joint Economic Development Commission.

She will be paid an annual salary of $57,696, Chattin said.

Conducting the interviews were Chattin, Finance Director Ron Eischens, City Engineer Craig Gray and City Engineer Brian Freeberg.

Chattin said the city also was hoping that Mel Milender, the planning administrator for the JPB, could have participated in interviews, but he was unavailable.

WWTP applications

Five people have applied to be superintendent of the city's Wastewater Treatment Facility, Chattin said.

Applications were accepted through Monday and city staff is now reviewing those applications, he said.