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Search stalls for new Halifax County administrator

The search for a new county administrator seems to have stalled, and Halifax County Board of Supervisors on Monday night asked County Administrator George Nester to stay through June.


Nester earlier had announced his plans to retire at the end of March.

Following a closed session discussion Monday evening, Nester agreed to stay on through June while supervisors continue their search.

“This does not need to be done in a rush. They need to be comfortable with their choice,” Nester said 
Tuesday morning when he confirmed his willingness to work through June.

After being turned down by several potential administrator candidates who took jobs elsewhere, supervisors have depleted their list of possibilities and now plan to take a different approach at finding the right person for the job.

A total of 27 candidates applied for the top county position of administrator, and earlier supervisors narrowed the search for a new county administrator to the top six candidates.

Supervisors interviewed their top six picks in closed meetings over a 15-day period but were unable to select a new administrator from the group.

“It’s sort of like a beauty contest, an applicant can make a good showing at first, but later you begin to see the warts,” Nester said of the selection process.

ED-1 Supervisor J. T. Davis confirmed an offer was made to one candidate, but after discussing it with his present employer, the applicant decided to keep his current job.

“Most people are honorable,” said County Administrator Nester. “In this case, he went with the intent to tell his board he had been offered a new job, and I believe his board simply wouldn’t let him leave.”

Although the search for a new county administrator is taking longer than expected, Nester said the board does not want to rush into a decision.

Supervisors’ next move will be to call Springsted Municipal Consulting of Richmond to see if the firm has any candidates who can be referred for the county administrator position.

Springsted, a public sector advisor, recently was hired by Martinsville City Council in their effort to recruit a new city manager.

“They are a large consulting firm who performs chief executive searches for local governments,” the county administrator explained.

Although supervisors are not officially contracting with the Richmond-based firm, Nester said they do want to make contact to see if they have a stable of available candidates who may be interested in the county administrator’s post.

“We’re not sure how they will price that or if they will even do it that way,” Nester said.

If Springsted is able to recommend candidates, Nester said the board will negotiate paying a finder’s fee to the consulting firm.

As of Tuesday, Nester said supervisors were not planning to readvertise the county administrator position until after discussions with Springsted.

Also Monday night following the closed door session, supervisors discussed Agricultural Forestal Districts before reaching a consensus that no new applications for AFD’s will be accepted for tax year 2012  (through Dec. 31.

The board agreed it will monitor the financial condition of the county through the spring of 2013 to determine whether to accept new applications at that time, Nester said.

This action affects only new applications. Previously approved AFD districts will be honored under the ordinance that created those districts, he said.

In other action Monday evening, supervisors adopted a resolution approving the building inspections agreement with the Town of Halifax.

According to the resolution, the county will assist the town in the administration and enforcement of the county building code within the corporate limits of the town.

In addition the county will participate in a cooperative building inspection program with the town by making its county building official and county board of building code appeals available to assist the town and its staff in a cooperative building inspection program.

Also Monday night, supervisors approved two resolutions appropriating Community Development Block Grant funds – one for an urgent needs project and the other for the Pine Height Trail Project.

According to the urgent needs resolution, the county has been awarded $320,550 for the rehabilitation or reconstruction of four low and moderate income housing units damaged by two tornadoes that struck the Virgilina and Nathalie communities in April of last year.

The Pine Height Trail Rehabilitation Project involves an $840,169 Community Development Block Grant to rehabilitate 11 owner-occupied and three investor-owner housing units, substantial reconstruction of five owner-occupied housing units and clearance of debris and trash throughout the project area.