Tooele County has a new department and a new face to manage it.
Isaac Astill came back to Tooele from the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., to direct the new Tooele County Facilities Management Department.
The new department is an amalgamation of the county’s former parks and recreation, and building maintenance departments, according to Tooele County Commission Chairman Bruce Clegg.
“We dissolved the parks and recreation, and building maintenance departments last spring,” he said. “The new department is designed to be more cost effective.”
Astill worked at the University of Utah with responsibilities in facilities, parking, transportation and event management until July 2012 when he moved to the University of Mississippi to become its director of parking and transportation. He started with Tooele County on Nov. 18.
Prior to moving to Mississippi, Astill lived in Stansbury Park.
“Part of Isaac’s job is to recommend to us how the department should be staffed,” said Clegg. “We expect the department will be a mix of county employees and contracted workers.”
Last March, entire staffs at parks and recreation, and building maintenance departments were laid off. However, Mark McKendrick, department head for parks and recreation, and Dal Shields, department head for building maintenance, were spared. A total of 29 workers were affected by the layoff.
Shields subsequently was part of group of 13 county employees that retired before July 1 to keep their current retirement benefits, including health insurance.
Shields’ retirement, and the discussion of how to replace him, lead to the decision to formally merge the two departments and conduct a nationwide search for a new director, said Clegg.
The facilities management department has two divisions, parks and recreation — which includes Deseret Peak — and building maintenance.
“Mark McKendrick will continue to direct parks and recreation, where he has some temporary workers,” said Clegg. “We currently have one employee in building maintenance, Calvin Cobb.”
In the two weeks since his arrival, Astill has been busy working on budget proposals for the county commissioners to consider as they prepare the 2014 budget.
“My goal is to get the facilities up and running and useable,” said Astill. “Including the swimming pool and the indoor equestrian facility at Deseret Peak.”
Whether or not the pool opens in 2014 will depend on the 2014 budget and what the commissioners decide is an appropriate funding level, according to Astill.
The county received 37 applications for the facilities management director job and narrowed the field down to eight applicants that were interviewed, according to Clegg.
“Isaac’s college degrees and experience working in facilities at both the University of Utah and Ole Miss make him very highly qualified,” said the commissioner.
Astill has a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in public administration, both from the University of Utah.
For Astill, who was born and raised in Utah, the move back to Tooele is an opportunity to be closer to family.
“I am excited to be back in Utah and Tooele County,” he said. “I am looking forward to helping the county to grow and attract more people.”