Our People...Our Community...Ourcata

Meet some employees who help make the City of Arcata the special place it is.

Environmental Compliance Officer Rachel Hernandez

Monitoring our drinking and wastewater

Since 2007, Rachel Hernandez has worked at the Arcata Marsh, one of her favorite places to be. Rachel loves both water and precise lab work—qualities that make her well-suited to be Arcata’s sole Environmental Compliance Officer. She works closely with local businesses, industries and restaurants, focusing on removing grease and other harmful pollutants from wastewater sent to the sewage treatment plant and Humboldt Bay. Rachel ensures that Arcata meets all federal, state and local water and wastewater standards. She wants to remind everyone that toilets are not trash cans. “Think twice before you pour things down the drain.”

Watch Rachel Hernandez at work.

Supporting our police and community

Paul Wilson intended to visit Arcata for just two weeks in 1961. Instead he stayed and has served the community as an Arcata Recreation employee, City Councilman, Firefighter and, for the past eight years, as a Sergeant with the Arcata Police Department’s Citizen Volunteer Patrol Program. Police Department volunteers assist in traffic control duties, handle paperwork and perform house checks. Volunteers help free up time for full time police officers to concentrate on current investigations and emergency response. Going on vacation? Trained APD volunteers like Paul can be an extra set of eyes on your home. Call (707) 822-2428 to register!

Watch Paul Wilson at work.

  Meet Paul Wilson, Citizen Volunteer Patrol Sargeant
Natural Resource Technician Michael McDowall

Monitoring Arcata's forest growth and wildlife

“I pop up on bears all the time,” are the casual words of Michael McDowall, the City of Arcata's Natural Resources Technician. Since 2007, Michael has been surveying the wildlife in and around Arcata. In his varied job, he monitors the forest's growth and wildlife, works with downtown businesses to reduce storm water pollution and maintains the annual database for spotted owls, amphibians and carnivores. Rainy weather can make his outdoor job challenging, but Michael says, “Everyone in the Environmental Services Department really believes in the work they're doing. When people do something wholeheartedly, you get high quality work.”

Watch Michael McDowall at work.

Abiding by State purchasing laws

As a Contracts and Procurement Specialist, Harold Miller stays abreast of changes in California labor and procurement laws. He ensures that all State regulations are followed when awarding contracts for a government project. His latest project is the Foster Avenue extension, which will ease motorist, truck, pedestrian and bicycle access between Highway 101 and Arcata's northwestern neighborhoods. Harold has worked for the City since 1984. “I remember the completion of the library and the sports complex,” he says. “It’s very satisfying to see a job finished.” Here’s a fun fact: Harold grew up in a house where City Hall now stands. “I really get around, huh?”

Watch Harold Miller at work.

Contracts and Procurement Specialist Harold Miller
Senior Planner Joe Mateer

Planning how Arcata looks and functions

Joe Mateer has worked for the City of Arcata since 2001. As a Senior Planner, Joe ensures that building projects meet City standards and codes. Projects can vary from a kitchen remodel to a second dwelling unit, or even a subdivision. “I like having a pulse on what people’s needs are and how we can help them meet those needs,” says Joe. “My department is called Community Development, so I want to encourage people to get involved in crafting our community’s planning documents, like the Housing Element and the General Plan, that we use every day to determine how Arcata looks and functions.”

Watch Joe Mateer at work.

Helping to keep our water services running

Loretta Arbuckle, who has been a City Finance Clerk since 2002, enjoys working with Arcata customers. “You meet a lot of interesting people and I love my coworkers,” she says. Loretta helps open new water accounts, does billing, and analyzes the city’s 5,000 customer accounts. “If the meter reads too high, we send someone out to re-check just in case there’s a leak.” Loretta reminds everyone that paying their water bill supports the water distribution system including the treatment of waste water. Additionally, the city now provides a new auto pay system available online at www.CityofArcata.org.

Watch Loretta Arbuckle at work.

Finance Clerk Loretta Arbuckle
Bridget Dory, City Clerk (Photo courtesy of the Mad River Union)

Keeping Arcata's history and democracy

Bridget Dory, a 16-year City of Arcata employee, is currently the City Clerk. Clerks can be referred to as “keepers of democracy.” Bridget is tenacious and precise to ensure the city is in compliance with state and federal laws. Bridget says, “People don’t know that the City Clerk is the oldest government profession and a city cannot function without one.”Among her many duties, she takes minutes at City Council meetings and responds to public records requests. Bridget enjoys preserving Arcata’s history and helping citizens gather information from City Hall.

Watch Bridget Dory at work.

Preserving our environment

Dennis Houghton enjoys his job as Natural Resources Maintenance Crew Leader for the City of Arcata’s Environmental Services Department. His passion and appreciation for the outdoors is seen in his daily work. “This is a very labor-intensive job. We can spend all day outside,” he says. Dennis works closely with his crew and local volunteers to build trails and maintain Arcata’s Forest, Marsh, and the city’s creeks and open spaces to optimize fish and wildlife habitat. “I love being involved with the community,” says Dennis. “Open spaces are important to the community and our mission is preserving these resources.”

Watch Dennis Houghton at work.

NR Maintenance Crew Leader Dennis Houghton
APD Park Ranger Heidi Groszmann

Protecting our parks

Heidi Groszmann has worked for the City of Arcata for nine years and is currently the Arcata Police Department's Special Services Division Park Ranger. Heidi is in charge of patrolling and preserving the city’s parks, the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary, the Aldergrove Marsh, and the Arcata Community Forest. “The forest is a major attraction for the city,” says Heidi. “People come from all over the world to see the redwoods.” What does Ranger Heidi want you to remember? “Tread lightly on the forest and clean up after yourself. It’s important to preserve the forest for future generations.”

Watch Heidi Groszmann at work.

Drawing plans for our city

As a Public Works Department Engineering Technician, Martin Nelson drafts maps and plans for the city. His latest Arcata Bicycle Boulevard drawings help citizens understand how the Boulevard’s new signage and striping can make bicycle commuting safer. Martin is an amazing painter and went back to school to pursue his dream of studying art at Humboldt State University. “I love my drawing time at work,” he says, “and the variety of people I get to work with at the city. We’ve built friendships and camaraderie over the years, and I really enjoy that.”

Watch Martin Nelson at work.

Engineering Technician Martin Nelson
Heather Schmidt

Enriching our community

Heather Schmidt is a Recreation Supervisor for the City of Arcata Recreation Division. Heather oversees many activities, including diverse city arts programming, a multi-level gymnastics program, the ever popular Redwood Day Camp, and the Leader-In-Training program, which offers teenagers an opportunity to take a lead role in city summer camps. Heather also coordinates the well attended Bowl of Beans community dinner, a fundraiser for the Arts in the Afternoon after school program. “Some people think recreation is a luxury, but it’s a necessity,” says Heather. “It makes a big difference in the lives of the families and children who work with us. It helps them learn and grow.”

Watch Heather Schmidt at work.

Keeping Arcata on the move

LeAnn Schuetzle holds two positions for the city of Arcata as a Transit Assistant and Bus Driver. As an Arcata native LeAnn enjoys giving back to her community. She says, “Both jobs give me the opportunity to act as a tour guide directing locals and visitors to their destinations around the city efficiently and safely.” LeAnn’s past experience includes driving kindergarten to eighth-grade students during her 15 year stint as a school bus driver. She now enjoys driving Humboldt State University students who make up 75 percent of the riders of the Arcata and Mad River Transit System.

Watch LeAnn Schuetzle at work.

LeAnn Schuetzle
 Dale Farris, Streets Maintenance Worker

Managing our streets

Dale Farris, who began his employment with the City of Arcata in 2005, is a Streets Maintenance Worker. Dale points to the wide variety of projects as a main factor for keeping his job fresh. The Arcata Bicycle Boulevard Project, a new assignment, features streets with designated bike lanes created to keep cyclists safe, reduce traffic and free up parking. His recurring projects include traffic control signs, street paving and clearing brush blocking roads, sidewalks or street signs. As a U.S. Air Force Veteran Dale acknowledges the importance of keeping morale high. “We are a small, close knit crew and the camaraderie motivates everyone to keep our production level running at 100 percent.”

Watch Dale Farris at work.

Protecting our community

Leah Christian is an Evidence Technician for the Arcata Police Department, serving since 2009. Often when people visualize an evidence technician, the popular CSI actors come to mind. Although this job is not like the TV show, Leah says, “I enjoy my job because it’s never dull and presents new challenges every day.” Leah is responsible for crime scene processing and also catalogs and tracks evidence such as money, guns and drugs. She ensures proper protocol is followed while evidence is housed within the vault. Leah is a graduate of the Dispatch Academy at College of the Redwoods and also attended Sonoma State University.

APD Evidence Technician Leah Christian
 Senior Maintenance Worker Stan Shaffer

Beautifying our community

Senior Maintenance Worker Stan Shaffer has been committed to the city of Arcata for over 17 years. Keeping the Plaza clean and picking up dog poop isn’t glamorous but, “The safety of the community comes first.” To hear him speak is to know he thrives on community beautification. “The feeling I get watching a tree I planted grow or seeing a mother push her child on a swing set I built is one of a kind.” Stan’s kindness does not stop there. He grows and donates his hair to children with cancer to help them regain their self-esteem and confidence.

Watch Stan Shaffer at work.

Protecting our health and environment

Wastewater treatment is an essential aspect of keeping a community safe and healthy. Dave Couch has dedicated over 30 years to the city of Arcata as a Wastewater Operator. During his time in the lab he administers a series of tests to ensure the plant is meeting city and state regulations. Arcata's treatment plant is the city’s primary wastewater treatment facility. The Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary includes environmentally friendly secondary treatment ponds, while housing over 270 species of birds. “I often refer to myself as a blue collar environmentalist,” he says. “I love water and this position allows me to help people and protect the environment.”

Watch Dave Couch at work.

Dave Couch
Wendell Laagland, Foodworks Culinary Center Operator

Partnering with startup food entrepreneurs

Wendell Laagland is a jack of all trades servicing the City of Arcata’s Foodworks Culinary Center as its Operator. Incorporating his diverse background of hospitality, property management and prior experience as a business owner, Wendell acts as a liaison between the City of Arcata and our communities’ small business owners. Twenty-eight local businesses currently call Foodworks home. “If you have a dream and you want to be your own boss in the food sector,” he says, “come talk to us.” Through Foodworks, Arcata has given the community a small business incubator designed to boost the economic platform of local manufacturers.

Watch Wendell Laagland at work.