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Lewis County evaluating numerous applications for manager, attorney


LOWVILLE — Lewis County has received numerous applications for both its county manager and attorney positions, and more will be accepted through Friday.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 20 people had applied for the manager post, while five had applied for attorney, with several of them late entries, according to Legislative Chairman Michael A. Tabolt, R-Croghan.

“They’ve been coming in throughout the day,” he said.

Mr. Tabolt said he was pleased with both the quantity and the quality of applicants, who hail from both inside and outside the county.

“I know there are some good ones in there,” he said.

While the published deadline for both positions was Wednesday, the chairman said that he and Human Resources Director James A. Swords had decided to extend that through Friday, since county offices were closed Wednesday for New Year’s Day.

County Attorney Richard J. Graham. who has served in that position for the past 11 years, has expressed an interest in staying on and will certainly get due consideration, Mr. Tabolt said. The intent of the incoming Legislature, including six newcomers, has been to solicit interest in the post rather than just reappointing Mr. Graham for a two-year term, as has been done recently with other department heads whose terms are expiring, he said.

Mr. Graham initially was appointed county attorney in 2003, when it was a part-time job. County lawmakers switched the post to full time in 2007.

Mr. Tabolt, who has served as acting manager since the April 30 retirement of David H. Pendergast, said he has no specific timetable for choosing top candidates for both jobs.

“We’re going to do due diligence,” he said.

County human resources officials initially will go through the applications and compile a list of the most qualified candidates for both jobs, Mr. Tabolt said.

However, the chairman said, he also plans to allow his fellow legislators to look through the resumes, if they wish, and determine how much involvement they want throughout the selection process.

“I hope to establish a schedule for interviews by Tuesday,” the day of the Legislature’s reorganizational meeting, he said.

County legislators last May received 10 applications for county manager. However, they elected not to appoint from that pool of candidates, instead readvertising and receiving an additional seven applications in June.

Brian J. Wohnsiedler, Harrisville, former executive director of the Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District, was selected informally to replace Mr. Pendergast following a series of interviews. Before a formal vote, however, legislators tabled his appointment to further vet the candidate after concerns were raised about his departure from his previous post, where he had been borrowing money against future state grants to continue to pay operating costs. Though no criminal action was found, the former director stepped down in February after the Soil and Water board said it had lost confidence in him.

Legislators then withdrew the resolution to appoint Mr. Wohnsiedler and decided to wait to fill the position in January, as reappointment would be necessary at that time regardless of who was hired. Mr. Wohnsiedler has since taken a position as executive director of the West Carthage Housing Authority.

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