Transitions: Bartow Co., GA; Cape May Co., NJ; Jefferson Co., WV and more

Peter Olson

Peter Olson

Bartow County, Georgia (population 100,157): Bartow County Commissioner-Elect Steve Taylor announced Thursday that Cartersville Attorney Peter Olson will serve as the next county administrator, according to The Daily Tribune News. As Taylor prepares to take office in January, Olson will fill the role of retiring County Administrator Steve Bradley. After 19 years in the role, Bradley will retire in January alongside Commissioner Clarence Brown. In his stead will be Peter Olson, an attorney of 18 years focusing in the areas of zoning and land law, local government law, real property and business litigation. Olson has worked regularly with the county in recent years and serves as city attorney for Kingston and Resaca. Taylor looked to name an administrator quickly after the election to afford the necessary time for transition. Olson has already begun conversations with Brown and Bradley and will be involved with budget preparations in the coming months, but many of the position’s responsibilities will coincide with tasks Olson has performed as outside counsel. Olson was born outside of Chicago and raised near Montgomery, Ala., before receiving his bachelors degree from Vanderbilt University in 1989 and a juris doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin in 1992. A summary of professional accomplishments was included in a statement released Thursday. Taylor interviewed local and outside candidates for the position, but said he kept returning to Olson for his skill and experience along with his knowledge of local government. Just as Olson has, Bradley too came from a background in law, serving as co-counsel for the county at a local firm before stepping into the role of county administrator. After 16 years in Cartersville, Olson stepped out on his own earlier this year to begin a new firm. Taking the role as administrator, he will now begin the process of closing his practice and helping clients through the transition. Olson and his wife, Ellyn, have two children: Grey, 7, and Eden, 4.

Cape May County, New Jersey (population 97,265): Edmund Grant Jr. will remain as director of operations for Cape May County indefinitely, said Freeholder director Gerald Thornton, according to The Middle Township Gazette. Grant replaced county administrator Stephen O’Connor, who left to become the interim executive director of the South Jersey Economic Development District. Grant came on board in May after retiring as the county’s treasurer earlier this year. In May, Thornton said putting Grant into the position would give freeholders time to decide what duties the county administrator position should have. As director of operations, Grant oversees the day-to-day workings of county government. He directs a staff of management, professional and administrative personnel and puts in place orders and policies of the Cape May County Board of Freeholders, strategic planning and policy oversight. Since Grant assumed administrator duties, some lingering issues in county government were discovered and taken care of, Thornton said. Thornton put it down to having a “new set of eyes” heading county government. One of the issues was having around the Cape May Airport in LowerTownship cleaned up. That work included cleaning around the Fare Free Transportation buses, he said. Grant also started a wellness program in an effort to reduce county government costs, Thornton said. Employees will learn about living healthier lifestyles, nutrition and more. Thornton did not know how much would be saved. He said county’s insurance company is on board with the idea. The program was expected to kick off Tuesday, Sept. 11. Middle management training will also be started, which will include some employees getting a review of managing and of budgets in a classroom setting, Thornton said. Grant was Cape May County’s chief financial officer for 17 years and county purchasing agent from 1986 until 1994. He also used to be a mayor in Wildwood and council president.

Jefferson County, West Virginia (population 53,498): Debbie Keyser, Jefferson County’s interim administrator since May, moved to permanent status Thursday following a unanimous vote by all five county commissioners, according to the Herald-Mail. Keyser was hired in April as the county’s first full-time human resources director. Less than a month later the commissioners named her interim administrator to replace Sandra Slusher McDonald in the temporary slot. McDonald was chosen in January to take over the duties after County Administrator Tim Boyde resigned. Keyser worked for more than 20 years in human resources administration for two private firms. According to McDonald, Keyser was one of 35 applicants for the Jefferson County job. Three were interviewed. Noland said Keyser’s human resource experience is a plus in her duties as county administrator. Keyser plans to move to Jefferson County after she sells her house in Berkeley County. She will be responsible for an annual county budget of $26 million and 1,870 county employees. Her salary as interim administrator, $97,750, won’t change with her new permanent status.

Fulton County, Illinois (population 37,069): Fulton County Administrator Mike Hays is out, according to the Journal Star. A last-minute attempt to extend his contract until Nov. 30 resulted in a 9-9 vote at Tuesday’s County Board meeting. That means the measure was defeated, and Hays’ last day is Thursday. The “challenging environment” was the topic of discussion more than once Tuesday night. Board member Del Parson had pointed questions for finance committee chairman Neil Williams about a request to hire a part-time administrative clerk. Williams said the hiring freeze means the board will “scrutinize” a vacant position and determine whether it is necessary. The money is in the budget for an administrative clerk, who will be even more necessary if Hays is gone. Nevertheless, that position was approved before the request to extend Hays’ contract was shot down. And the extension request itself raised similar concerns. Even the roll call was puzzling, since board member Roger Clark’s name was not called. He did, eventually, vote, and cast one of the votes in favor of Hays’ extension. The other yes votes were Conklin, Garry Hensley, Vicki Hoke, Ed Ketcham, who introduced the motion to extend the contract, Rod Malott, Doug Manock, Terry Pigg and Larry Taff. Voting against the extension were George Hall, Helle, Linda Hudson, Ed Huggins, Parson, Merl Pettet, Doreen Shaw, John Taylor and Williams. While it would appear Fulton County is in the somewhat unusual position of approving a position to be hired by a county administrator who no longer exists, Fulton County Clerk Jim Nelson said that is not a problem. He explained that those duties had been handled by elected officials before Fulton County hired its first county administrator in 2007. He anticipates the elected officials will redistribute the work again.

Hazleton, Pennsylvania (population 25,340): Hazleton City’s administrative department will soon have a new leader, according to the Standard Speaker. Mary Ellen Lieb notified the mayor of her intent to retire as acting director of administration, a position she has held for the past four years.

Swansea, Illinois (population 13,430): Village Administrator John Openlander has resigned to take a job as a city administrator in another state, according to the News-Democrat. Mayor Jim Rauckman said Openlander turned in his resignation letter Wednesday. In his resignation letter, Openlander said he has accepted a city administrator position in another state. Openlander’s contract with the village was set to expire in April at the end of Rauckman’s current mayoral term. The village administrator’s appointment runs concurrent with the mayor’s term. The contract requires Openlander give the village 60 days notice upon his resignation. His last day with the village will be Nov. 9. Rauckman said he and village trustees will discuss how the village should proceed with filling Openlander’s position. Swansea Village Board is likely to formally accept Openlander’s resignation during its board meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at the Swansea Government Center.

Lampasas, Texas (population 6,681): Llano City Manager Finley deGraffenried will serve as the new Lampasas city manager, according to KWTX. DeGraffenried takes the place of Michael Stoldt, who was fired just over a year ago for “in-house reasons.” In June, the city selected David Vela as a finalist for the position but he turned it down after failing to come to terms with the city council on salary and other terms of employment. Interim City Manager Stacy Brack has been filling the position temporarily since last August. DeGraffenried will give the City of Llano about a month’s notice before working in Lampasas full-time October 15. The city says deGraffenried’s experience with various management projects and his social skills make him a good match for the city.

Bulverde, Texas (population 5,478): Bulverde City Councilmembers unexpectedly voted four to one Tuesday to terminate City Administrator John Hobson’s contract effective immediately, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Mayor Bill Krawietz said the action to fire Hobson, which came after an executive session, was a surprise to him after Councilman Kirk Harrison asked weeks ago to put a personnel matter on Tuesday’s agenda. Shane Reynolds was the only councilman to vote against the motion. However, Krawietz said, council members reviewed Hobson’s performance during Tuesday’s executive session and concluded they had to terminate his contract. Hobson was hired as the city administrator in June 2006. His current base salary is $88,155 plus a monthly $400 car allowance, according to City Finance Director Ginger Hofstetter. City Attorney Frank Garza said Hobson’s contract was for an indefinite term. Including sick leave and vacation pay, Hobson’s severance will amount to $78,000 before taxes. Harrison said the council did not make the decision lightly. Hobson said council’s action Tuesday was unexpected. Krawietz said Hofstetter will assume Hobson’s duties until the city hires a new administrator.

Scandia, Minnesota (population 3,936): Kristina Handt, former village administrator of Luck, Wisc., will be Scandia’s city administrator, according to the Forest Lake TimesHandt will start work on Monday, Sept. 17. At their Tuesday, Aug. 28 work session the council voted to hire Handt at a salary of $70,000 per year. Current Administrator Anne Hurlburt will retire the first week of October. Handt has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, training from the Minnesota Paralegal Institute, and a master’s degree in advocacy and political leadership from the University of Minnesota. She held the Luck job from September 2008 to July 2012, supervising nine full-time and 33 part-time employees. At Luck, Handt said, there are only 11 miles of road to care for, compared to 90 miles in Scandia.  Funding for roads doubled while she was the village administrator, including grants. She has experience with city septic systems.  In Luck, she said, one system serves most of the village, but there are others around the lake, installed to improve lake quality. Before working in Luck, Handt was a legislative assistant for MN State Sen. Gary Kubly for four years. She had internships at the city of Minnestrista  in 2007 and Grassroots Solutions, a consulting firm, in 2006. In 2002 and 2003 she worked for Kohl’s Department Stores, as a personnel/operations area supervisor and then as a district auditor. In 1999 and 2000 she interned for U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar and State Sen. Steve Murphy.

Goliad, Texas (population 1,908): The Goliad city administrator is resigning, pending acceptance of a city manager position in Guthrie, Okla, according to the Victoria Advocate. Goliad City Council is set to discuss the pending resignation Tuesday, but Sereniah Breland said it is not official until the Guthrie City Council votes to hire her, also on Tuesday. Mayor Jay Harvey said the Goliad City Council has plans to name an interim city administrator at Tuesday’s meeting. Breland has been with Goliad for almost two years. Harvey said she has many accomplishments, such as implementing code enforcement and building inspections in Goliad. He said Breland also tried to create a municipal court for Goliad. Her last day will be Oct. 9, according to her resignation letter. Guthrie, which has a population of about 10,000, is in central Oklahoma.

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