Elkton closer to resolving town manager’s position

The Valley Banner

ELKTON — Town Council on Monday moved a small step closer to resolving a vacancy at the top of its administration.

Members of the panel’s public safety, public health and personnel committee were told that nine of 11 applicants the committee has deemed most qualified remain interested in the town manager position, Chairman Harry Armbruster said following the meeting. Those resumes will be reviewed in a closed session at next week’s council work session.

The committee planned to resume its review Monday, but Armbruster said it delayed the chore because Councilman Jay Dean was absent from the meeting. Town leaders previously suspended their search for about two months while Dean, a member of the committee, recuperated from a serious illness.

“When the vice mayor got sick, things went on hold,” Armbruster said about the process. “ The applicants were told the process was on hold.”

The post has been vacant since February 2016, when council terminated Kevin Whitfield after he submitted a resignation letter because he planned to open a business. Mayor Wayne Printz was appointed by council to serve as the town’s acting manager, which he’s done without a salary.

The town began seeking applicants for the position in the winter, drawing interest from 25 people. Armbruster announced in February that the committee had narrowed the list to the 11 applicants it deemed most qualified.

The search was suspended shortly thereafter, though, when Dean became too ill to attend meetings.

Printz said Monday he thinks the decision to halt the search at that time was a good one.

“From this perspective, the vice mayor’s viewpoint is extremely important to all of this,” Printz said. “He’s been in office a long time.”

Leaving Post Vacant?
Monday morning, Armbruster said the plan for that afternoon was for the committee, which also includes Councilwoman Margaretta Isom, to look over the remaining interested applicants and narrow the group to four or six to present to Town Council at its work session.

The councilman, however, said that doesn’t necessarily mean council will decide to move forward with any of the choices.

That’s partly because some council members prefer the way the town’s been running with Printz in the acting-manager role and committee chairman in close contact with the leaders of the departments they oversee.

“Hopefully, we’ve got several options here,” Armbruster said before the meeting. “When we go through the applications today and present the names that we have to the council at their work session, we’ll have to make a decision whether to go forward with the town manager applications or stay status quo the way we are.

“That decision has to be made. I don’t know which way it’s going to go.”

Armbruster, who said he prefers the current system, thinks more things are getting done than had occurred under previous town managers.

If a “superqualified” candidate were to emerge, Armbruster said he’d probably back hiring that person. Otherwise, he’d prefer to continue on the current path.

“The council has a hands-on feeling of what’s going on within their own spectrum of committees,” Armbruster said. “I know what’s going on in public safety. When an issue arises, we take care of it.

“Personally, I don’t want to give that feeling up. I think the town is moving forward on issues managers were reluctant to deal with.”

He didn’t know if the other council members had similar thoughts.

Printz is willing to continue as acting town manager. If Elkton hires a new manager, he thinks it’s important for that person to be the right fit to serve the town’s residents and to be able to “understand Elkton, Virginia.”

Whitfield, Elkton’s police chief for four years before being selected as town manager, was earning a salary of $66,851 when he was let go.

At the time he was the town’s seventh manager since 2001.

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