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Lewis legislators a step closer to naming county manager

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LOWVILLE — Lewis County legislators have whittled the pool of candidates for county manager from 25 applicants down to two or three.

Legislative Chairman Michael A. Tabolt, R-Croghan, first said board members were at a “gridlock” in making decision, but then said, “Maybe gridlock isn’t the right word. We’re still mulling it over.”

Mr. Tabolt said no legislators seemed adamant for one candidate over another, instead, the remaining candidates were equally qualified, making the decision a tough one.

“We’re still talking about it. We’re not in a rush. We’re taking our time and making the best decision,” he said.

The county manager position has been vacant since the resignation of David H. Pendergast on April 30.

Two separate rounds of advertising and interviews were unsuccessful in filling the seat. Legislators drew up a resolution, then tabled the matter and eventually withdrew the resolution to appoint Brian J. Wohnsiedler, Harrisville, former executive director of the Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District. Concerns had been raised about his departure from that post, where he had been borrowing money against future state grants to continue to pay operating costs. No criminal action was determined, but Mr. Wohnsiedler stepped down after the Soil and Water board said it had lost confidence in him.

Legislators then decided to wait to fill the position in 2014.

Last week, legislators decided not to reappoint Richard J. Graham as county attorney, instead choosing to hire Joan E. McNichol from a pool of eight applicants.

The decision was made in executive session Thursday evening. An official appointment will have to be made in public session following a vote.

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