Transitions: Floyd County, GA; Leavenworth County, KS; West Warwick, RI and more

Floyd County, Georgia (population 96,317): County Manager Kevin Poe tendered his resignation today, effective Dec. 4. Jackson County commissioners voted today to name Poe as their new county manager. The Northeast Georgia county lies between Gainesville and Athens, near the area where Poe’s grown children have moved in recent years. Jackson County nearly doubled its population in the past decade, to 60,485 people in 2010. Floyd County’s 6.4 percent growth rate translated to 96,317 people in the 2010 census. There were 64 applicants for the position, which has been vacant four times in the past 10 years. Read more in the Rome News-Tribune.

Leavenworth County, Kansas (population 76,227): It took two rounds of applications and interviews, but Leavenworth County Commission voted Thursday to appoint a former state legislator, Leavenworth native and longtime lawyer as the new county administrator. The decision to offer Patrick Hurley the contract for the position came following a second round of soliciting resumes and conducting interviews. The first round of candidates for the position that Heather Morgan left last year resulted in no candidates that the commission as a whole could agree on or who would take the job. Commission Chairman Clyde Graeber said that changed this time. The commission received a total of 42 applications for the position and narrowed that list down to three finalists, each of which were brought in for a second interview.

Hurley was born and raised in Leavenworth and served as an attorney in the city, Graeber said. In 1975, he was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in Leavenworth’s 41st District and served for four years, including a stint as House majority leader. He resigned in 1978 when he was nominated to be state’s secretary of administration under Gov. John Carlin. He has more recently served as an attorney with an office in Topeka. Graeber said that list of qualifications and the contacts at the state that Hurley could bring with him certainly guided the commission’s feelings in choosing him for the position. For Hurley, the opening was something of a serendipitous opportunity, as he and his wife still have many friends and relatives in Leavenworth County.

Commissioner John Flower said he was impressed with Hurley’s past, as well as his interest and experience in long-range strategic planning, something that Flower has been pushing the commission to develop for the county. His continued involvement with his longtime home was also a factor for him in the decision making process. Read more at the Leavenworth Times.

West Warwick, Rhode Island (population 29,191): After more than three years as town manager, James H. Thomas has resigned to take a similar position with the Town of Kingston, Mass. Thomas submitted his letter of resignation to the Town Council Wednesday evening after accepting an offer from the Kingston Board of Selectmen earlier in the day. In an interview Thursday, he said it was time for him to move on, acknowledging that his time in West Warwick has been challenging as the town has tried to navigate through financial struggles. Thomas came to West Warwick in June 2008 from Maine where he most recently served as town manager of Old Orchard Beach. He also worked in municipal government in Illinois, Colorado, Utah and Wisconsin. He was one of 37 applicants for the West Warwick position, which became vacant when Wolfgang Bauer was fired for admittedly mismanaging funds related to the Riverwalk Project.

During Thomas’ time in office, the stresses on the town’s finances have been numerous. There was the $10 million the town paid as part of the settlement for survivors and family members of the victims of the 2003 Station nightclub fire. The town was also hit hard by the floods of 2010 and has had to pay to repair roads that were washed out by the waters that spilled from the Pawtuxet River. And cuts in state aid have hurt the bottom line. With the council refusing to raise the property tax rate in the last two years, Thomas has had to cut back on services. He has eliminated nearly four dozen positions in Town Hall during his tenure. The last three years have also been characterized by frequent disagreements over finances with the School Department. The School Committee has filed lawsuits, known as Caruolo actions, against the town to try and secure money to fund education.

Thomas was one of three finalists interviewed by the Kingston Board of Selectmen Sept. 13. He was the only candidate to come back for a second interview. After that interview, which took place in a public meeting Sept. 22, the five-member board unanimously voted to start contract negotiations. Thomas’s last day in West Warwick will be Oct. 28. He starts in Kingston, a town of nearly 13,000 north of Plymouth, on Oct. 31. He will get a raise in his new job. Under the three-year contract with Kingston, his starting salary will be $119,500 plus a $500 monthly car allowance. He is currently paid about $109,500, which includes compensation for not using the town’s health-insurance plan. Thomas said he would keep his home in West Warwick and commute to Massachusetts. Read more at the Providence Journal.

Crestwood, Missouri (population 11,912): The Crestwood Board of Aldermen has appointed Petree Eastman, a former University City assistant city manager, as Crestwood’s new city administrator. After meeting in a closed session near the end of the regular Sept. 27 board meeting, the board approved the appointment 7-0. Eastman will replace Jim Eckrich, who resigned in April to return to his position as director of public services. He will continue as acting city administrator until Eastman takes over in mid- to late October. Currently serving as a consultant to the St. Louis County Municipal League, Eastman previously worked at University City from April 2007 to June 2010. She holds a law degree from St. Louis University, a master’s degree in city planning from the University of California at Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in business and media studies from Webster University. She is a graduate of Affton High School. Eastman’s legal work included more than five years with the Armstrong Teasdale law firm and work for various Missouri state offices on school desegregation cases. At University City, she worked on sustainable energy practices among many other issues, and with the Muny League she assisted municipalities with examining Ameren Missouri’s rates for street lighting. At the open meeting before their vote, aldermen took the opportunity to question Eastman, who was selected by Mayor Jeff Schlink after a nationwide search. Read more at the South County Times.

Princeton, Illinois (population 7,660): Princeton City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh has announced his resignation. His last day will be Nov. 11. Fiegenschuh has taken a village administrator’s position in Shorewood, a town near Joliet with a population of 17,000. Fiegenschuh was selected from 100 applicants for the job, which was narrowed to six finalists. Fiegenschuh was one of those six, and along with a couple of other finalists, was asked to return for a second round of interviews before being selected. Fiegenschuh accepted the city manager’s position in Princeton in November 2007. He came to Princeton from Sac City, Iowa. Princeton Mayor Keith Cain said he believes the next step is for the city to contact a search firm to help fill Fiegenschuh’s position. He said it could be anywhere from six weeks to four months to get another city manager in place, but he hopes to have a person in the job before next year’s budget. Read more at the Bureau County Republican.

Kingston, Massachusetts (population 5,591): New Town Administrator Jim Thomas has agreed to terms on a contract. His start date will be Nov. 1. Thomas has signed the contract, the terms of which are not being released until after selectmen sign the hard copy, probably this weekend. A reception for the public to welcome Thomas to Kingston has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11, prior to the board meeting at 7 p.m. Read at The Patriot Ledger.

Tucumcari, New Mexico (population 5,363): Tucumcari city commissioners on Thursday morning fired City Manager Bobbye Rose, according to City Clerk Christine Dougherty. Community Development Director Doug Powers has been named interim manager. Rose was terminated on a 3-2 vote. Rose was selected in March 2009 to be the city manager following the dismissal of John Sutherland. Rose and Sutherland are two of the four finalists for the vacant manager position in Lincoln County. Witcher did not give a reason for the dismissal, but said it had “absolutely nothing” to do with her applying to Lincoln County. Rose was making $70,000 annually as the city manager. Powers’ salary was not adjusted for the interim position. Powers is the fourth person to fill the position since January of 2009, counting interim managers. Read more at the Clovis News Journal.

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