Chief search down to 2

City manager Shawn Purvis talks to Councilwoman Jean Turlington and others during a recent meeting. He has narrowed down candidates for the next fire chief to two.

The City of Clinton has narrowed the search for its new fire chief down to two, with a decision expected to come in the near future.

“We conducted our assessment center last week and believe we have two very competent candidates,” City manager Shawn Purvis said. “I expect to schedule a final interview with them later this week or early next week and then to make a final decision.”

Interim Chief Austin Tew has been at the helm in recent months. Fire Chief Adon Snyder retired at the end of January after two and a half years with the Clinton Fire Department, following which the city moved forward with the process of finding his replacement — using the same in-depth practice it utilized in hiring Snyder.

“The external assessment center will give us the most complete approach to hiring the next chief,” Purvis said upon Snyder’s retirement. “With lapsed salary and a part-time interim, we will be able to address the cost within the existing budget.”

Even as it closes in filling one department head vacancy, the city will be evaluating another after the resignation of finance director Harry Staven.

It was recently announced that Staven is no longer with the City of Clinton, having accepted an administrative position in Alaska after little more than a year with the city.

“It’s a great opportunity for him and something he was looking at before he came here, and it didn’t work out,” Purvis said.

“He did a good job for us, we’re proud of him and we wish him the very best,” said Mayor Lew Starling. “We’ll miss him.”

Kristin Stafford is acting finance director as of now, Purvis noted, although the situation will be evaluated.

“I am exploring options including a possible restructuring before making final decision on how to proceed,” said Purvis.

Such reorganization in recent years saw the merging of the assistant manager and finance director positions based on existing personnel and the needs of the city. Purvis, who served as assistant manager for four consecutive GFOA (Government Finance Officers Association) budgeting awards, stepped into that dual role in 2011 and served as assistant manager/finance director for two budget cycles before being promoted to city manager in 2013, subsequently beginning the search for a finance director.

In late 2013, as the city search went on, Purvis alluded to the challenges the city would face in keeping the bar high for its finances and budgeting. The city has since been awarded its fifth straight GFOA award, with Stafford and Staven accepting it at the end of 2014.