Transitions: Clay County, MO; East Providence, RI; Christianburg, VA and more

Clay County, Missouri (population 221,939): Clay County commissioners praised outgoing County Administrator Alexa Barton’s professionalism, leadership and compassion during her final meeting in that role. After 10 years with Clay County, Barton is moving on to the city administrator position in Grain Valley. Charlie Barr, who has spent 24 years with the county and currently serves as director of parks, recreation and historic sites, will take on the interim administrator job until Barton’s replacement is found. Eastern Commissioner Katee Porter said Barton had accomplished a difficult task: earning Porter’s respect. Compared to Clay County, Porter said the Grain Valley job would probably be “a piece of cake.” Barton read from a statement as she said goodbye to a decade of work. Read more at The Kearney Courier.

East Providence, Rhode Island (population 47,037): Peter Graczykowski, selected candidate for East Providence city manager, has accepted a contract with the city, Mayor Bruce Rogers said in a voicemail early Wednesday afternoon. Rogers said an “agreement will be going to [Graczykowski] today” in the way of a contract. Rogers also said that Graczykowski will be providing his two-week notice to his current employer, the town of Vernon, CT, where he currently serves as human resources director and town administrator. The council chose Graczykowski after holding an executive session after its public interview of another finalist for the position. The council offered Graczykowski a contract the next day. Both sides have been in negotiations regarding salary and benefits until this morning. Read more at the East Providence Patch.

Christianburg, Virginia (population 18,841): After months of debate and some delays, Christiansburg’s appointment of a new town manager ended Tuesday night succinctly and without fireworks. The Christiansburg Town Council looked to one of its own for the hire, voting 4-2 to promote longtime assistant and current interim manager Barry Helms. Helms has been serving as interim town manager since the council asked former Town Manager Lance Terpenny to resign last year. The town received 77 applicants for the position, drawing candidates from 25 states. Springsted, a private search firm with offices in several major U.S. cities including Richmond, was hired by the council for $19,500 to assist with the hiring process. The town council met in numerous closed sessions to interview candidates before narrowing the pool down to Helms and an unnamed candidate employed in Western Virginia. An appointment had been scheduled on recent meeting agendas but was pushed back each time. Though council members have had heated exchanges throughout the process, Tuesday’s appointment lasted all of five minutes. Mayor Richard Ballengee began this portion of the meeting by reading a prepared statement, in which he lauded the town’s decision to work with Springsted on the hiring process, which he called “productive and successful.” Councilman Jim Vanhoozier moved that the council appoint Helms as the new town manager, which was seconded by Vice Mayor Mike Barber. Councilmen Henry Showalter and Cord Hall cast the “no” votes, though no discussion was offered. In previous meetings, the two have expressed wariness that other council members might already have made up their minds on Helms instead of truly validating the process. The vote passed swiftly, and the council moved on to the next agenda item without further discussion. Helms was hired as an administrative assistant in the town manager’s office 17 years ago, and was promoted to assistant town manager when Terpenny became the town manager in 1996. Terpenny served as town manager for 14 years and most recently earned a salary of about $130,000. Terms of Helms’ salary have not yet been disclosed. Tuesday night’s vote made Helms’ appointment effective immediately. Read more at the Roanoke Times.

Lamar County, Georgia (population 18,317): Robert “Bob” Zellner of the Redbone community in south Lamar County is now the county administrator. His hiring came after a brief closed session at a called meeting Sept. 13 at the county administration building. Zellner was at work two days later. His salary was set at $60,000 a year. Zellner, who worked for Lamar from 1983-89 and Upson County from 2006-07, came from his most recent job in Worth County, where he has been since 2009. During his career he has also worked in Hampton and Villa Rica. Read more at the Herald-Gazette.

Dumfries, Virginia (population 18,013): The Dumfries Town Council made Dan Taber’s position as interim town manager permanent last Tuesday. On a 5-0 vote, with Councilman Willie Toney abstaining and Councilwoman Kristin Forrester absent, the council approved a two-year contract for Taber with a yearly salary of $110,000 and no benefits. Taber retired after 37 years with the Prince William County Police Department as one of three assistant chiefs. He holds a master’s degree in public administration. In his role as Dumfries town manager, Taber said stabilizing the town’s approach to government will be one of his top priorities. Taber becomes the Dumfries ninth town manager in 17 years. Taber was hired as the town’s police chief a year ago and has received favorable comments from both citizens and council members since. About six weeks ago he was appointed interim town manager when Kim Alexander left for a manager position in Culpeper. Taber said during the time he has been interim manager, he has been exposed to issues such as zoning, procurement and contracts that he had not dealt with as police chief. Read more at InsideNoVA.com.

Sycamore, Illinois (population 17,519): How long Brian Gregory will be Sycamore’s acting city manager is unknown at this point in time, but the timetable makes no difference for the 10-year Sycamore government veteran who plans to pick up where Bill Nicklas left off. Gregory will take the reigns as city manager Oct. 1 on a temporary basis while the city council conducts a regional search for a permanent replacement. The search – which could include Gregory if he chooses to apply – will not distract the new acting manager, who said he is focused on preparing for the upcoming budget discussions for Fiscal Year 2013. Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy said the council does not want to draw out the process and is planning a “fairly brief” search process for the permanent city manager. He said discussions are ongoing among council members, but an official announcement for applicants should happen in the near future. The search comes on the heels of Nicklas’ decision to take an associate vice president position at Northern Illinois University. Nicklas will end his 13-year tenure with the city Sept. 30, when there will be a public reception in his honor at the Sycamore Center Council Chambers from 4-6 p.m. Read more at the Daily Chronicle.

Warrenton, Virginia (population 14,634): Warrenton’s new administrator, Jeff Parrott, is already calling the position a good fit, as he juggles multiple long-term projects and gets acquainted with the town. Hired last month to succeed John Freeman, who is moving, Parrott is no stranger to rural living. He was born in Roanoke Rapids and raised on a family farm in Virginia. In college, he was pursuing a degree in public administration when he heeded the call to public service with the Richmond Bureau of Police. Later, he served a tour in the Air Force as an air crew member on B-52 bombers and was an Army reservist. His subsequent work with the federal government was with the CIA, the Federal Aviation Administration and Homeland Security before he retired with 20 years of service. He was assistant county manager in Moore County for a couple of years before deciding to move to this area to be closer to family. Along the way he earned a bachelor’s degree in management and is working on his master’s. Warrenton Mayor Walter Gardner said the town is fortunate to bring in someone with Parrott’s background. Parrott is busying himself with getting to know the many aspects of his new job including the town’s budget and its people. In addition, he said he is looking at ways to make things more effective and efficient, and bring businesses to Warrenton that would thrive here. Parrott is working closely with the town’s revitalization committee on the Small Town Main Street program, which kicks off here next week, and getting ready for next month’s Harvest Market. He is also looking to capitalize on the historic nature of Warrenton as it relates to tourism and attracting new people who want to retire in a small town atmosphere. Married with four sons, Parrott lives at Lake Gaston. Read more at VANCnews.com.

Woodhaven, Michigan (population 12,875): City Administrator Kyle Tertzag has resigned. The City Council voted unanimously to accept Tertzag’s resignation and a separation agreement at the regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday. Neither the resignation letter, nor details of the separation agreement have been made public. Tertzag was not at the meeting. Mayor Patricia Odette said she wanted to thank Tertzag for his dedication to the city of Woodhaven and wishes him the best in his future endeavors. The council voted unanimously at a special meeting Aug. 22 to place Tertzag on paid leave until Tuesday’s meeting. According to city officials, Tertzag was not allowed in City Hall during the leave. A box of his belongings was removed from his office and placed behind the city clerk’s desk. His photo and biographical information were removed from the city website by the morning of Aug. 24. Deputy Police Chief Robert Harabedian told The News-Herald Newspapers the Police Department was not conducting any investigation while Tertzag was on paid leave. Odette appointed Tertzag as city administrator Dec. 1, 2009, while he was still an Allen Park councilman. He was a substitute teacher before beginning the job Dec. 2, 2009. While working in Woodhaven, Tertzag remained an Allen Park councilman until March 15, when he submitted a letter of resignation to the council. His first term on the Allen Park council began in 1995. Tertzag graduated from Saginaw Valley State University July 14 as a Michigan certified public manager. He had been taking online and evening classes for about a year. He gave a speech at the commencement ceremony last month. Odette congratulated him at a July 19 council meeting for becoming a certified public manager. Read the story on the News-Herald.

Milton, Delaware (population 2,576): Under a figurative cloud cast by an ailing state of financial affairs and legal woes, town officials announced July 25 that the next town manager in Milton would be Wilmer “Win” Abbott, the chief executive for the town of Fenwick Island. The choice fills a year-long void created by the abrupt departure of George Dickerson, the former town manager who is suing the town and the mayor and several members of the Town Council over circumstances of his suspension last September and subsequent firing earlier this year in March. For town officials, Abbott’s arrival is timely, starting his new job Friday, a day after a workshop to review a fourth draft of the town’s proposed $1.48 million fiscal-year budget for 2012 that officials are grappling to balance. The budget year starts in two weeks, Oct. 1. Abbott is modest, a salesman-turned-politician-turned-municipal servant with a head for numbers and a knack for attracting funding sources and building bridges — just what town leaders need. Most of all, he considers himself skilled at striking a delicate balance between leadership and subservience. And while he’s adept at employing tactics that pull together departments and funding sources, he’s not about to lay out a vision for Milton before his start date and a formal nod from Mayor Cliff Newlands and the six-member council. Newlands counts Abbott’s management style and knowledge of finance and politics among desired assets. The mayor would not discuss Abbott’s salary, but acknowledged that the immediate past town manager earned $70,000 a year. Abbott will supervise an accounting staff, a project coordinator who heads code enforcement and public works. To save money, Milton elected officials are leaning against filling the vacancy left by town clerk Stephanie Coulbourne who resigned in June to start a business. “We would be saving money –$62,000 for the clerk’s job,” Newlands said. Abbott became a municipal hire in 2009, after former Fenwick Island Town Manager Tony Carson moved on to do the job in Berlin. Read more at DelMarVaNOW.com.

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