After 21 years as assistant city engineer, Mario Livojevic accepted the position of city engineer this past week.
Former Engineer Curtis Eagle retired at the end of May after 19 years working for the city.
Livojevic began his career with the city in June 1992 after graduating from Cleveland State University with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. Livojevic received his surveyor's license in 1997 and is one of the few dually licensed engineers in the area.
"This was actually my first full-time job out of school," he said. "I had worked part-time for three years or so while I was in school with private consultants and also one summer for the (Ohio) Department of Transportation."
He said he filled in for an instructor in a lab class during school, but "that's been the sum total of my employment history."
He saw the advertisement at Cleveland State University's jobs placement office. The city had been looking for a graduate, and he applied for the position.
"I thought I wanted to go west, and I did," Livojevic said. "Just only about 90 miles."
He said with Eagle, he learned skills he had not been taught in college.
"To some extent, all of the positions up here aren't necessarily covered in the technical training that you receive in school," Livojevic said. "It has more to do with just dealing with people, and municipal government administration isn't taught in any engineering curriculum. It's generally accepted that if you graduate from a program and end up working at a place like this, you just learn it on the job."
Livojevic said Eagle knew most about the legal requirements of the position.
"[Eagle] was very well adept and knowledgeable regarding that. I'm not sure how to categorize his teaching style, but it was more of a hands-on," he said. "I didn't find that objectionable."
Livojevic has been involved with more than 20 years of projects, but he said his most memorable accomplishment on the current sewer project.
When the sewer project started, he said a neighborhood had questions and concerns about construction. The neighborhood asked for someone to meet with them to answer their questions, and the administration asked Livojevic to speak with them.
"I went out there with the plans and the proposal and we walked around the neighborhood for over an hour. When it was all said and done, everybody seemed to be satisfied with it, they were more at ease, they felt comfortable," he said. "To my knowledge, as the work proceeded there weren't any major issues or problems that arose and no misunderstandings."
From that situation, he said he learned that communication was important.
"Communication is the key to keeping people relatively content and happy with the services they're receiving, which is what we should be doing," he said.
Livojevic said the city has been involved with more improvement projects now than he had ever experienced.
"I know from having access to the records I think that at this very point, we may be or are involved with more work than has gone on at any other time in recent history here at the city, in terms of projects the city has initiated," he said.
Included in the list were the sewer project, road projects and potential bridge replacements.
Sewer work remains at the forefront, since it could resolve flooding for residents.
"The EPA is happy with us that we initiated the work before they would have required us to do so, and we're trying to keep that going so we're on good terms," he said. "We operate under a permit and conditions through the Ohio EPA and currently one of those conditions is that you upgrade and modify your system so that there's a less chance for pollution entering the river, which is what our system is tied into."
When he became interim head engineer, he had no plans to take the position permanently.
"The daunting task that I perceived kind of dispersed on its own given that for two months, I was already coping with everything and doing everything that I would continue doing," he said. "I think I woke up one morning and realized that I was already doing most of it. That's when I started seriously contemplating that maybe I should rethink my original position and consider it."
He then met with the administration and they discussed his concerns and questions.
"Everybody seemed to be in agreement of how we wanted this to proceed," he said. "I didn't really come up with any kind of a reasonable alternative. The place had to keep going."
Initially, he had reservations about switching positions. "I liked what I was doing," he said. "And I still do."
Livojevic said the head engineer position is more managerial, instead of being technical and more hands-on as is the assistant position. He said in his previous position, he designed projects and conducted inspections.
"Time doesn't necessarily permit this position to do that due to, in large part, the meetings," Livojevic said. "That takes up a lot of time."
For the assistant city engineer, Livojevic did not have many requirements.
"We really need someone with a certain level of experience so they can walk in and more or less, pick up certain duties and carry them out to help distribute the work load, hence the minimum of five years of experience," he said.
He said that so far, he likes being city engineer.
"I enjoy a challenge, and this position has a lot of challenges to go along with it," he said. "So far, yes, I do enjoy it."