New EACC director hired; police chief search continues

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HARRISONBURG — Elkton’s search for a police chief is expected to continue into next month, at least, but a new director for the Elkton Area Community Center is in place.

Wayne Printz, the town’s mayor and acting town manager, said Tuesday that 17 people have applied to lead the Elkton Police Department. Elkton’s Personnel Committee has called a meeting for Nov. 21 to narrow the list of candidates to be interviewed by members of Town Council.

Aaron Hammer resigned as the town’s police chief in early October to accept a deputy’s position with the Page County Sheriff’s Office. Sgt. Junior Kite was appointed interim chief by Town Council in accordance with the Town Charter.

The town has filled a vacant department head post, though.

Councilman Harry Armbruster, chairman of the Personnel Committee, said Howard Taylor has been hired as the new director of the Elkton Area Community Center and reports to work today. Taylor most recently was an athletic technician for Rockingham County Parks and Recreation.

Armbruster said Monday that he’d hoped to have a police-chief selection to bring to council at its meeting this month.

That, however, was before a flurry of applications “rolled in all of the sudden,” Printz said. As a result, he thinks it’s “highly unlikely” a nominee for the chief’s job this month.

“We want to make sure to do a great job and really work this thing,” he said, “and make sure we’re doing the best job for our citizens, that we hire somebody who’s firmly planted on the ground, that understands police work and can manage personnel.”

Printz said the council members are placing a high priority on drug interdiction.

Among the applicants are some currently on the Elkton Police Department and some from outside Virginia, he said.

The town’s advertisement for the position purposefully did not include a deadline for applications, according to Armbruster. The idea was to be flexible enough to start reviewing the candidate pool move when a suitable number of quality people had applied and not cut off those that might not be sure about applying.

“Some people have a hard time making a decision,” he said. “We decided to keep it open-ended.”

As for the new EACC director, Printz said Taylor has the personality and experience town leaders sought.

“I’m looking forward to working with Howard,” he said. “He brings to the table an opportunity for us to add programs we’d like to have in the comm center.”

The town had “incredibly good candidates” for the position, Printz said, but Taylor’s experience and ideas separated him from the pack.

“He had so much more experience,” the mayor said. “And he gave us a list of probably 100 different concepts, some of which he introduced for the county, others things we’d like to do here. It was just really hard to turn him down.”

Taylor replaces Mark Pedersen, who was dismissed on July 18 after 15 months in the job. Diane Johnson, the town’s recreation director, was the center’s interim director.

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