April 19, 2014 10:59:51 PM
Starkville aldermen narrowed a list of 26 community developer applicants to five finalists this week and scheduled interviews for a 5:30 p.m. special-call board meeting on Tuesday.
Twenty-six people applied for the position after aldermen voted in March to expand the search nationally and expand its time window. The five finalists selected by the board are: Andrew Ellard, director of Hattiesburg's federal and state programs; Canton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jordan Hillman; Kelly McCaffery, a landscape architect with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans; Starkville City Planner Buddy Sanders; and Walton County (Fla.) Board of Commissioners senior planner Brian Underwood.
Other Starkville constituent groups, including the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, will interview potential community developer candidates earlier in the day.
"We were presented this opportunity during the last hiring process of this position, and two out of the three candidates were able to make the scheduling work. We've been working with (Starkville Personnel Director) Randy Boyd, and he's been extremely helpful in scheduling these visits in advance as possible to ensure that all candidates have the opportunity to meet with business community representatives,"
Partnership CEO Jennifer Gregory said. "It's also a great opportunity for the candidates to speak directly to those that have invested in our community with their own businesses to gain a real perspective on Starkville."
Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker, who voted to expand the search's time line and scope, noted Tuesday the candidate pool's strength. Out of the total applicants, Walker said he was willing to interview six or seven candidates, while Ward 5 Alderman Scott Maynard, the city's audit and budget committee chairman, said four to five candidates' resumes quickly caught his attention.
The board unanimously whittled down its shortlist after a brief discussion.
Former Community Developer William Snowden tendered his resignation in December, becoming the city's fourth significant departure last year. Snowden was absent from work since October, when aldermen granted him six weeks of health-related leave.
Before his exit, the board tasked Snowden with a comprehensive review of the city's sidewalk and landscaping ordinances. The report was pushed back to February after a fall delay.
Since then, Community Development employees have reported to Mayor Parker Wiseman and Chief Administrative Officer Taylor Adams.
The previous board of aldermen hired Snowden, the former Tuscaloosa, Ala., economic developer, as the city's first community developer in 2013. His salary was then set at $75,000.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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