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Following a five month search for a new executive director, the executive board of West Central Consolidated Communications (WC3) has found a new leader for the central emergency dispatch agency serving Brookfield, Riverside, North Riverside and McCook.

Brookfield Village Manager Timothy Wiberg, the chairman of the executive board, announced on May 28 that Buddy J. Hicks, who is director of the 911 Center of Grundy County, had accepted and signed an offer letter.

Hicks previously served as communication supervisor for the McHenry County Sheriff, as a dispatcher for the city of Zion and as communications supervisor for the Waukegan Police Department, according to Wiberg.

He will be paid $120,000.

The candidate search for a new executive director for WC3 was handled by the firm GovHR. The WC3 executive board — the village managers of Brookfield, Riverside and North Riverside – along with those villages’ police and fire chiefs interviewed five candidates. On May 25, Hicks and another finalist were interviewed again by the executive board.

WC3 has been without a full-time director since Dec. 1, 2020 when former executive director Jason Rodgers was placed on paid leave. WC3 officials declined to state why they sought to cut ties with Rodgers, who formally left WC3’s employ March 31.

After placing Rodgers on administrative leave, the executive board hired retired Brookfield Police Chief James Episcopo as interim executive director on a part-time basis.

Dispatchers finally have a contract

In other WC3 news, the agency’s 11 full-time and four part-time dispatchers have inked their first employment contract after working without one since WC3 went live in May 2018.

On May 12, the WC3 executive board ratified the deal that had been signed earlier by the local bargaining unit’s leadership and their representative from the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council.

“I think they had already done a lot of the work, we were just finishing on wages and retro pay,” said Episcopo. “For me, it was more about facilitating the meetings and making it happen.”

At the time Episcopo was appointed to the interim job, the unresolved union contract was a glaring issue. Many of WC3’s employees had come from the participating villages’ dispatch centers, which were dissolved when WC3 went into operation in 2018. They were paid at different rates and until the union contract was worked out had not received a pay raise for more than three years.

The new contract ensures all WC3 employees are paid at the same rate and receive base pay and step raises on a set schedule. The wage table in the contract indicates that employees received three pay and step raises each year, beginning Jan. 1, 2019.

The contract calls for base pay raises each year of 2.5 percent, plus step raises, which increase pay at a higher rate.

According to the wage table, for example, a dispatcher paid at the entry-level rate of $21.63 per hour in 2018 was in line to have their pay raised to 24.50 in 2019, to $25.99 in 2020, to $27.57 in 2021 and to $29.25 in 2022.

Over the term of the contract, which expires Dec. 31, 2022, that employee will have seen a pay increase of 35.2 percent.