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Crystal River council to vote for city manager

After two months without a top administrator, the City Council will choose a new city manager tonight.

The decision comes two days after a day-long series of interviews with five candidates, including four in-state candidates and one from North Carolina.

Two candidates, Inglis Town Manager Harry Norman and Crystal River Public Works Director Russ Kreager, didn't travel far to meet with council members about the job. When council members selected finalists earlier this month, Kreager was the leading candidate.

Council members looked beyond what they had judged from resumes, however, when they met applicants Saturday.

"My philosophy was that the candidate that I will vote for will be the best qualified candidate," council member Mike Gudis said. "It will have nothing to do with anything else."

The council will vote for a top choice for city manager and an alternate at tonight's council meeting. City Attorney Clark Stillwell and Interim City Manager George Zoettlein will negotiate an employment contract with the new manager.

The council selected the candidates from among the 94 applicants who responded to a nationwide search for a new city manager. Former City Manager Roger Baltz left Crystal River in February to become county administrator in Putnam County.

The applicants interviewed Saturday were:

Kreager, who has been public works director in Crystal River since 1992. He attended Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and previously served as public service director in Portsmouth, Ohio, and village administrator in Utica, Ohio.

George McMahon, who has 25 years' experience as a city and county manager. He was the city manager of Edgewater, population 18,000, for six years.

McMahon has a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Gannon University.

David Kraus, city manager in Lowell, N.C., who also has had a varied background as a television and movie actor.

He received a bachelor of arts degree from DePauw University in Indiana and later a master's in public administration from Indiana University.

Richard Williams, who was interim town manager in Melbourne Beach until January. Williams also has extensive experience in Leesburg city government.

He holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of Kansas.

Harry Norman, whose resignation from the Inglis town manager post will take effect next month.

He worked for the U.S. Treasury Department for 27 years before retiring in 1993. Norman attended State University of New York.