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Riverhead Water District superintendent retires; will stay on for transition

Riverhead’s Water District superintendent officially retired as of July 2, but he’ll still be working a little longer. 

Mark Conklin has been working for the Water District for just over 38 years, the last four as its superintendent, and he’s been planning to retire for a while.

But the district needs to have a superintendent with what’s known as a Grade 1B water treatment operators certificate from the state Department of Health, according to Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith. She said until a new superintendent takes over, Mr. Conklin has agreed to stay on.

Assistant Superintendent Tom Kruger also has the 1B certification, according to Ms. Jens-Smith.

The Town Board last Tuesday passed a resolution authorizing the signing of a professional service agreement with Mr. Conklin on a per-hour rate from July 2 through Sept. 30. The rate is $71.84 per hour, with a cap of $30,000, according to the contract. 

“When I came into office, Mark was ready to retire and he agreed to stay for a period of time to be able to talk about the water district and see where our capital projects were,” Ms. Jens-Smith said. “So I think him for giving us that extra year.”

“I’ve never met anybody that has the work ethic or constitution of Mark Conklin when it comes to running a department,” Councilman Tim Hubbard said.

Councilwoman Catherine Kent added: “He’s always working and he will be sorely missed.”

Ms. Jens-Smith said they have a candidate for the job who has the Grade 1B license and also has passed the civil service test for water district superintendent, but that they have not officially hired that person. She declined to identify that person prior to formally having a contract.

She said that in addition to Mr. Conklin, the town could also use engineers from H2M Architects and Engineers who have the proper certification.

In addition to his years in the water district, Mr. Conklin also has been a volunteer with the Riverhead Fire Department for close to 40 years, where he has served as department chief and also has been an elected fire district commissioner since 2007.

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