Transitions: Chino, CA; St. Joseph County, MI; Coös County, NH and more

Matthew BallantyneChino, California (population 77,983): City Manager Matthew Ballantyne will be introduced and take his oath of office during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, according to the Contra Costa Times. Ballantyne’s first official day with the city was Aug. 1. Tuesday will be his first City Council meeting. Ballantyne comes to the city with about 17 years of public service. He was San Marino’s top administrator. The 38-year-old will fill the shoes of former City Manager Patrick Glover who retired when his contract ended in February. The City Council appointed Police Chief Miles Pruitt as the interim city manager while the search for a new city manager was conducted. Bob Murray and Associates was hired to conduct a nation-wide search. More than 70 applicants applied for the job.

St. Joseph County, Michigan (population 61,295): St. Joseph County Administrator Judy West-Wing has announced she will be resigning in January, according to WLKM.  The 53-year-old West-Wing presented her letter of resignation during Friday morning’s executive committee meeting of the county board. West-Wing, a Flint-area native, has been county administrator for 20 of her 30 years of employment with St. Joseph County.  West-Wing said she wishes to spend more time with her 10-year-old daughter and will leave the job with a heavy heart. Her resignation is effective Jan. 23.  She is only the second person to hold the county’s highest, non-elected position, succeeding Patrick Yoder in 1993.  Board chairman Rick Shaffer said commissioners during their meeting Monday will establish a date to meet and discuss a procedure to secure a new county administrator.

Coös County, New Hampshire (population 33,055): A five-and-a-half-month-long transition period began on Wednesday, July 18, when the three-man board of county commissioners selected the county’s current Director of Finance, Jennifer Fish of Colebrook, to succeed incumbent Sue Collins as county administrator when she retires at year’s end, according to New Hampshire Lakes and Mountains. When she takes the lead job on Jan. 1, 2013, Fish will not only fulfill her new responsibilities but also continue her finance duties. She explained that she did not apply for the top slot when it was first advertised, believing that the presence of an inside candidate might discourage even highly qualified people from applying. Only when the person said to be the top candidate withdrew his resume did Fish apply. Fish graduated from Pittsburg High School in the 18-member Class of 1991; graduated in 1995 from Keene State College with a B.S. in Management; and earned her M.B.A. in 2003 from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Cal. As a new college graduate, she first worked for Peoples Heritage Financial Group of Keene as an internal auditor and then headed west to work in the entertainment industry for eight years. She returned to Coös and worked from 2006 to 2010 at the First Colebrook Bank in Colebrook before joining the county’s administrative team. Fish said that she was fortunate to have worked with a fine team at First Colebrook as well as under the direct supervision of county administrator Collins, learning the ropes. Fish’s parents, Jarvis and Carlene Fish of Pittsburg, are retired, and her only sibling, a sister, lives downstate. Both her grandmothers — Bernice Fish and Mildred Young — also live in Pittsburg. Fish does not intend to live on the single-family house on the grounds of the Coös County complex in West Stewartstown, but will continue to live in Colebrook. Her salary has not yet been set.

East Palo Alto, California (population 28,155): The East Palo Alto City Council has selected its new city manager, according to The Daily Journal. The selection of Magda Gonzalez came in the wake of an extensive six-month search that included nearly 80 candidates from across the country, city officials said. Gonzalez and the city are still negotiating a contract, according to the mayor’s office. Formerly the deputy city manager in Redwood City, Gonzalez has experience in a number of executive positions in Belmont and San Bruno, as well as Redwood City. Mayor Laura Martinez said in a statement that the city is looking forward to the addition of Gonzalez and her “strong leadership and managerial skills.” Gonzalez received the “Rising Star Award” in 2008 from the Municipal Managers Association of Northern California. She replaces ML Gordon, who retired in March.

Martinsville, Virginia (population 13,821): Martinsville Interim City Manager Leon Towarnicki is remaining silent about whether he has applied for the post on a permanent basis, according to the Martinsville Bulletin. Sunday was the deadline to apply. He said that if he was to say publicly that he did not apply, there might be speculation as to why. On the other hand, Towarnicki said that if he was to say that he applied, it might put “certain expectations” on Martinsville City Council to give him the job automatically, considering he has been doing it for about eight months. The council employs the city manager, who is the city’s top administrator. Springsted Inc., a Richmond executive recruitment firm, is coordinating the city manager search. On Aug. 14, the firm is to give the council a report on the applicants, said Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins. Under state law, information on specific applicants could be discussed in closed session. However, Adkins said general information about the status of the search, such as how many people applied and where they are from, will be presented during open session. The council hopes to announce the hiring of a new city manager during the week of Sept. 10, she said. Martinsville has been without a city manager since Clarence Monday left the position in January. He now is county administrator in Amherst County. The council named Towarnicki, the city’s assistant city manager and public works director, interim city manager in December after Monday resigned. A Henry County native, Towarnicki worked for a private engineering firm in Greensboro, N.C., before he was named Martinsville’s city engineer in 1982. Two years later, he was appointed public works director. He was appointed assistant city manager in 2007. The advertisement for the city manager’s job said the council aims to hire someone with at least five to seven years of public or private management experience as a chief or deputy chief executive in an organization of similar size to Martinsville’s city government. Other qualifications, according to Adkins and the ad, include understanding how municipalities operate and experience in strategic planning, finance and budgeting, economic development and redevelopment and bringing people together to solve community problems among a diverse population. The next city manager will earn between $95,000 and $115,000 a year plus benefits, based on experience and qualifications, the announcement shows. When he left Martinsville, Monday was earning $118,320 annually.

Bonham, Texas (population 10,127): Bonham has named their new city manger, according to KXII. Wednesday was his first day in office. Tuesday, Bonham City Council unanimously voted Bill Shipp into office. Shipp has worked for several North Texas cities for 17 years. He will serve as Bonham’s City Manager for at least 3 years. Shipp was recently the City Manager to Royse City and before that, he was the City Manger of Commerce.

Hillsborough, New Hampshire (population 6,011): Legal bills totaling more than $46,000 probably could have been avoided if the board of selectmen had responded sooner to complaints coming from town hall, but now that the problem appears to be solved, people seem to be struggling to move on, said Board Chairman Russell Galpin, according to the Union Leader. In 2010, before Galpin joined the board of selectmen, he said he heard complaints from town employees over their treatment by then-town administrator John Stetser. Allegations that Stetser was making other people do his job and was sexually harassing some of the town’s female employees were not news to his ears when he joined the board. And when those allegations kept coming, he tried to do something about it. Stetser resigned in June at the end of an investigation conducted on behalf of the board by attorney Emily Rice of Orr & Reno in Concord. Rice was hired to conduct an investigation of Stetser’s job performance and employee interaction after the board of selectmen received a letter from four female employees questioning the town administrator’s professionalism. Galpin said the allegations, many of them involving sexual harassment, had been ignored by the previous board of selectmen, but the new board took action by bringing in Rice to investigate. Although Stetser told the Union Leader in March that he was surprised by the allegations, Galpin said he had been told what the employees’ complaints were on many occasions but failed to modify his behavior, according to reports from the employees to the board. In fact, Galpin said, Stetser was accused of sexually harassing an employee on election day of this year, while Rice was conducting her investigation. At the end of the investigation, which cost around $38,600 in bills from Rice and another $8,000 for counsel with the town’s attorney, Galpin said, Stetser resigned. Galpin wouldn’t say what the investigation uncovered because it’s been sealed, but he did say that Stetser resigned without asking for any kind of severance package or other compensation. Now that Stetser is gone, the town is looking to move on, Galpin said. There are factions in town who have treated the women who complained about Stetser as though they’re the guilty parties, he said, and that has had an impact on morale. But now the focus is on finding a new town administrator who can unify the employees at town hall and turn the attention back to the business of the town, Galpin said. Anyone interested in the position can apply here.

Ocean View, Delaware (population 1,882): The search is once again complete and Ocean View has a new town manager, according to DelMarVaNOW. Dianne Vogel of Las Vegas accepted the position and will assume her role in early September, after she relocates to her home in Ocean View. The search committee, which included Mayor Gordon Wood and councilmen Tom Sheeran and Bob Lawless, narrowed down the applicants of about 36 to the top three before they were authorized by council to extend an offer to Vogel. The committee looked at experience, educational background and other qualifications. The town manager serves as the chief administrative officer. Vogel served as a community manager of several large communities and homeowner associations in the Las Vegas area; managed the day-to-day operations in a large community association management group in Rehoboth Beach; and served as director of finance and management for the Montgomery Village Foundation in Gaithersburg, Md. The responsibilities of the town manager include financial management and budgeting; community and intergovernmental relations; enforcing provisions of the Town Charter and Code; coordination and direction of activities of departments; and effective management of long-range planning and the administrative affairs of the town. Her experience providing professional management services to communities and homeowner associations, as well as working with property owners and staff of those organizations, will also be a benefit. The town will host a meet and greet at Town Hall shortly after Vogel joins Ocean View to allow residents to get to know the new town manager. After the abrupt departure of Rick Konrad — who resigned less than two weeks after stepping into the position, citing personal reasons — and the difficulties other towns, such as Dewey Beach, are having with town managers, Wood said he’s pleased to have the search behind him.

Millington, Maryland (population 642): The new Millington town manager, who will be shared with Sudlersville, already comes with more than seven years experience working for the municipality, according to The Star Democrat. Millington Mayor Ed Robinson announced July 27 that Clerk-Treasurer Jo Manning has been promoted. Manning replaces Steve Walls, who departed July 13 to become the new head of public works for Centreville. Walls served as town manager for both Millington and Sudlersville through the Maryland Rural Develeopment Corp.’s circuit rider program. After his departure, though, the two towns decided they could share the costs of the town manager position without MRDC’s involvement. Robinson said the Millington Town Council made its decision official July 26, while the Sudlersville commissioners agreed the next day to hire Manning. Robinson and Councilman C.J. Morales represented Millington on the committee that reviewed the five applications received and interviewed the top two candidates. Town Commissioners William Faust and E.T. Kimble handled the work for Sudlersville. Manning’s promotion left the town clerk position open in Millington, but the council already has agreed on how to fill it. Michelle Thompson, Sudlersville clerk-treasurer, now will split her time between the two towns as well. Robinson said Thompson was working only 20 hours a week for Sudlersville, and will add 20 more hours in Millington to her schedule. Thompson will be in Millington from 8 a.m. to noon Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursday. She will work the morning shift in Sudlersville on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the afternoon shift on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Robinson said the towns are working with Verizon so Thompson will be available 40 hours a week at the existing town hall phone numbers. Someone from Millington wishing to speak with Thompson when she is in Sudlersville will be able to call the Millington town office and it still will ring directly to Thompson. Robinson said she also will have a laptop with information for both municipalities, so she will be able to answer any questions. Robinson thinks having Manning and Thompson splitting their time between Millington and Sudlersville will not be an issue because both towns are very “compatible.” He said besides being so close to each other and being of similar size, Millington and Sudlersville both rely on the Maryland Environmental Service to manage their water and wastewater systems. Robinson is elated such a deal could be worked out with the neighboring town. He said if splitting the two positions does prove troublesome, the towns will explore other options.

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