Wellington Council Welcomes New Key Staff Members

The Wellington Village Council welcomed Village Engineer Tom Lundeen, Utilities Director Shannon LaRocque and Tennis Pro Tommy Cheatham to the village staff on Tuesday after final approval of the budget.

While Lundeen and LaRocque are new to Wellington, Cheatham has been affiliated with the village for nearly two decades as a vendor. He is now a village staff member.

Lundeen started working on Monday, attending the council’s agenda review meeting.

Village Manager Paul Schofield said that he had separated the engineer and utilities director positions several months ago.

“We have been looking for a village engineer for a while,” Schofield told the Town-Crier on Wednesday. “Those positions had been separated mostly because there was a significant amount of construction going on in utilities that required much more day-to-day supervision than could be given if somebody was doing all of the development work, all of the regulatory work and all of the utility work.”

Before coming to Wellington, Lundeen was the engineer and deputy director for the Port of Palm Beach for many years, where he was responsible for more than $100 million in capital improvement projects. Prior to that, he worked for Palm Beach County, Brevard County and the City of Melbourne, as well as in the private sector.

Lundeen received the Government Engineer of the Year award in 2000 and Engineer of the Year Award in 2005 from the Palm Beach chapter of the Florida Engineering Society. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and is a licensed professional engineer.

“We are really looking for him to deal with the construction projects that are underway, and some of the more delicate federal permitting that we’ve got in the pipeline,” Schofield said.

Cheatham held the village’s tennis provider contract for years through his company before the village’s recent decision to bring the tennis program in-house.

On Tuesday, in final steps to bring the tennis program in-house, the council authorized a contract to provide maintenance services at the new tennis center with Professional Tennis Court Services for $92,328 and enter into independent contractor agreements with tennis professionals to provide lessons, clinics and summer camps, utilize vendors for the purchase of the tennis pro shop inventory and purchase about $31,000 in remaining inventory at the pro shop.

Finance Director Ed De La Vega said Professional Tennis Court Services has been providing services for Cheatham since 2010 and is a local provider.

De La Vega requested direction to enter into contracts with the seven tennis professionals who were providing services through Cheatham’s company. The agreement would pay 75 percent to the professional and 25 percent to the village, and would run for three years, beginning Oct. 1, with two annual one-year renewals.

He added that Cheatham has a list of about 20 vendors that village staff would like to continue to deal with for the time being.

“We’re asking in order to have a seamless transition that we continue to use those vendors until which time the recreation staff and director has an opportunity to see the type of service and type of quality that they provide, at which time he will be able to make decisions on whether to continue to use that product or to make changes,” De La Vega said.

Schofield explained to council members that the actions requested that evening were the last steps to bringing the program in-house.

“It’s a process we started almost two years ago,” he said. “We went through the process for the tennis director, and Mr. Cheatham was the most qualified person. He becomes our employee on Oct. 1.”

Schofield explained that the existing inventory and anything purchased in the future will be subject to the village’s purchasing rules.

“There are far more controls in place now because we are responsible for the inventory,” he said.

LaRocque, who started work in Wellington on Thursday, comes from Palm Beach County, where she was assistant county administrator and had duties including utilities.

LaRocque, who lives in Wellington, joined the county in 2005 as the Scripps program manager. Her duties included managing the Department of Economic Sustainability, Palm Tran, Palm Beach County Water Utilities, the Scripps program, Max Planck and the convention center hotel project. She served as liaison to the Housing Finance Authority, the Workforce Development Board, the Business Development Board, the Westgate CRA and the Community Land Trust.

Schofield said her responsibilities in Wellington will include management of renovations at the water plant, the amendment of the village’s consumptive use permit with the South Florida Water Management District and addressing the village’s long-term water supply issues.