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Schroeder chosen as city engineer, filling void for Public Works

Although Joe Schroeder is the new city engineer, he's far from unfamiliar with the projects he will be tackling for the city of Mitchell in his new role.

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Joe Schroeder was recently named the new city engineer for the city of Mitchell. Schroeder was a former engineer with SPN and Associates and has extensive background in working on key projects in the city. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Although Joe Schroeder is the new city engineer, he’s far from unfamiliar with the projects he will be tackling for the city of Mitchell in his new role.

From designing the ongoing Sanborn Boulevard construction improvements to drafting the plans for the East Central Drainage project, Schroeder’s past experience at SPN and Associates has the 31-year-old well equipped for his role as the city engineer.

“The last few years, I’ve been focusing a lot of my time on major Mitchell projects, so that’s helped me get acquainted with some of the things I’ll be working on,” Schroeder said. “It’s helped me get over the newness of the position.”

Schroeder was named the city engineer this week, and he’s already focusing his attention toward a handful of projects such as the street improvements on South Wisconsin Street, which tie in with the Burr Street project.

According to City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein, prior to 2017 -- which is when the city restructured the Public Works Department to add the city engineer position -- the Public Works Director dually served as the city engineer. Schroeder is filling a void for the Public Works Department, while taking on a new city position.

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With nine years of experience as a professional engineer, Schroeder said he’s eager to bring his engineering expertise to the city of Mitchell.

“I’ll be able to bring fresh new ideas; it’s important to bring new ideas to the city to help the growth of Mitchell,” Schroeder said. “My engineering expertise is in street, sewer and roadways.”

Considering the Sanborn Boulevard and East Central Drainage projects encompass major reconstruction improvements of streets, sewer and drainage systems, Public Works Director Kyle Croce, who will oversee Schroeder, said the timing was right for the hire.

“With Joe’s background in leading some of the biggest projects in the city over the years, he will be such a vital addition for the city,” said Croce, who is also a licensed engineer. “We are looking forward to utilizing his engineering experience and expertise in the area.”

Although an experienced engineer, Schroeder said learning the process and inner workings of city government will be unfamiliar territory.

“Being in the private sector, you would take your project designs to a city official and let the City Council hash out the details,” Schroeder said. “I’m now that person, so I will have to figure out the process of working with the City Council and getting things approved.”

Schroeder acknowledged being on the other side of the engineering aisle away from the private sector will pose a new challenge, but he’s already feeling at home after being introduced to the Mitchell City Council during Monday’s meeting.

With a knack for mathematics and science, Schroeder became interested in becoming an engineer while growing up in Alexandria and attending Hanson High School. In college, Schroeder earned his degree in civil engineering at South Dakota State University in Brookings. Throughout his time at SDSU, Schroeder built a strong relationship with his engineering classmates, which he’s used over the years to help exchange ideas with his friends-turned-industry experts.

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“That’s where I learned a lot of my work ethic, and it helped me be a part of a network with friends of mine who are also engineers,” Schroeder said of his experience at SDSU. “We bounce ideas off each other and keep in close contact.”

In 2014, Schroeder officially became a professional licensed engineer in the state of South Dakota after passing his licensure test. While complex math and geometry are fundamental skills engineers utilize, Schroeder believes building relationships is equally important.

“Having worked with a lot of the contractors the city has used for projects over the years, I feel that I will compliment them well,” said Schroeder, noting Brosz Engineering, Inc., H&W Contracting and Infrastructure Design Group are contractors he’s worked with in the past. “In the engineering sector, it’s about making strong relationships and providing the best ideas that will be effective.”

Looking toward the future, Schroeder is focused on seeing Phases II and III of the Sanborn Boulevard project through. In addition, Schroeder and Croce will put their engineering minds together to begin developing the city’s five-year plan, which will map out a large swath of the city’s ideas to improve roadways, streets, infrastructure, water and sewer systems.

“We have a lot of projects on our plate, but it will be great having Joe assist in working on the five-year plan,” Croce said. “There are a lot of aspects to the city engineer job, and Joe’s young energy will be a great addition to the Public Works Department.”

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