Mille Lacs County has a new county engineer on board. Neal Knopik came on staff as the interim county engineer on July 27 and was recently re-titled as the county engineer upon the transferring of his engineering license.
Knopik comes with a wealth of experience serving in the public sector of engineering in California but has roots in the Little Falls area. Most recently, Knopik served the last four years as senior civil engineer for the City of Ventura, Calif. Prior to that, Knopik worked as an assistant engineer for the City of Lancaster, Calif., for 11 years; a general contractor in Minneapolis for four years; and got his start as an intern at Stearns County.
Knopik earned his civil engineering degree at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities with an emphasis in structures.
Knopik said that he took the county engineer position to move closer to family and is looking forward to helping the department grow and evolve.
Coming from a city form of government, Knopik said, “I’m also looking forward to learning everything I can about being a county engineer as well as learning from the great people around me.”
Starting out in the position, Knopik said, has been extremely busy with a steep learning curve. “But I’m working with some great people,” he said. “I’m enjoying the challenge because I know it’ll get easier as time moves on.”
Knopik currently lives in Little Falls and spends his free time hiking, mountain biking, camping, riding motorcycles on and off road, and taking road trips, traveling in the country and abroad. “It’s great to be back in Minnesota,” added Knopik.
The county engineer position supervises the construction services department and highway maintenance department and maintenance department as well as performs work such as permitting, engineering and standards, budgeting, grant proposals, MnDOT coordination, funding and more.