GREENFIELD — It’s been almost three months since Greenfield had a department head to oversee work on city streets, but officials say finding the right person for the job has been a challenge.
Former street superintendent Jim Hahn was unexpectedly asked to resign in late April after Mayor Chuck Fewell told him he wanted new, more progressive, leadership for the department.
Department heads are appointed by the mayor; Fewell did not elaborate on his decision to let Hahn go, and Hahn said at the time the mayor did not explain his reasoning for asking Hahn to step down.
Since Hahn’s departure, the city has received about 25 applications from street commissioner hopefuls, but few of them have been candidates with experience leading an entire department, officials said.
While that’s left the department somewhat in limbo, Fewell said he would rather take the time to find the right fit for the job than to hurry through the hiring process just to fill the opening.
“I do not want to rush this,” Fewell said. “I want to have the most qualified and best candidate that we can have for the city, whether that be internal or external.”
After a lengthy application period, interviews were scheduled to begin this week. Fewell’s assistant, Chuck Anderson, has been collecting the applications and said he and Utilities Director Mike Fruth plan to interview seven of the candidates for the $60,000 position.
Meanwhile, the department is being overseen by assistant street commissioner Brad Evans and foreman Ryan Kinder. While the pair has done well keeping operations running smoothly, neither expressed interest in taking the job permanently, Anderson said.
Anderson said several applicants had worked on street crews before, but the challenges of heading up the department would be new to them.
“A lot of responsibility that goes with that,” Anderson said. “We’d like to have somebody that’s actually done it before. That’s what’s hard to find.”
The street commissioner is responsible for handling personnel issues and citizen complaints and maintaining the department’s budget, among other responsibilities related more directly to street maintenance, Anderson said.
Fewell said he will look to Anderson and Fruth to narrow the applicant pool to a final two or three; he will then interview the remaining candidates before making a final decision.
Fewell will ultimately make a recommendation to the Board of Works and Public Safety to approve the hire.
Anderson said he expects the process will take about three more weeks.