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County to look within for new administrator

County officials have been here before. They have seen administrators come and go. Chuck Hetrick. Bonnie Dyga. Now, Paul McIntosh.

But the government machinery keeps chugging along.

"What happens is our staff pulls together as a team," commission Chairwoman Nancy Robinson said last week. "During this period of time, I really don't have any major concerns. We have an excellent staff putting out 120 percent.

"We've seen this kind of teamwork before under these kinds of circumstances."

McIntosh left Tuesday under a cloud of controversy over gifts he accepted from local business leaders. He resigned and agreed not to sue the County Commission in exchange for a $65,000 settlement deal.

For now, McIntosh's second in command, Dick Radacky, is serving as interim county administrator.

On Tuesday, commissioners will discuss the next step: recruiting a permanent replacement.

"We'll look internally first, look local," Robinson said. "There are tremendous advantages when you have someone internally or locally. They hit the ground running if they are already part of the organization. We could have a demonstrated successful outcome like with the School Board bringing up Wendy Tellone."

Tellone, who worked as assistant superintendent to John Sanders, assumed Sanders' post after he resigned to take the superintendent's job in Lee County.

"To me, that would probably be the best way to go, to give staff the opportunity to go up the ladder," Robinson said.

Commissioner Diane Rowden also wants to look locally first.

"What I've heard from people is they would certainly appreciate it if the commissioners would see what kind of qualities we have within the county," Rowden said. "Unless we get out there and really actively look for that, you don't know."

Rowden and Radacky have clashed in the past, but soon after Radacky took over for McIntosh, they publicly buried the hatchet.

"I have confidence Dick and I can work well together," Rowden said. "I thought it was important for us to start out that way, for his sake, too. One thing I have to say in Dick's defense: No matter what things we might disagree on, he has always been forthcoming with communication. Anything he felt commissioners should know, he was always in your office, always letting you know. That's so important."

Although the 2002-03 budget process is just getting under way, Commissioner Chris Kingsley isn't too worried about the void left by McIntosh _ or former emergency management director Bill Appleby.

"A lot of work was already started under Paul and other directors, and Dick Radacky has been involved in the process," Kingsley said. "I'm comfortable with the situation."

Kingsley wants to keep the search for a new administrator in-house, possibly involving a committee of managers, employees and residents to review applicants.

Does Radacky want the top job for good? He's not saying.

"I'm not going to answer that because I don't know," he said Friday. "We're going to continue to move forward. I've got a good grasp of who's doing what and how to proceed with the issues."

As for replacing Appleby, who resigned after personnel problems fragmented his department, commissioners may simply opt to merge Emergency Management into the county's fire rescue service.

Right now, the department is being run by Assistant Fire Chief Danny Roberts.

"He may certainly show us that merging Emergency Management into fire service may be the best decision," Robinson said.

Currently, Roberts is working with other staffers on the department budgets and gathering information about the pros and cons of a merger, which will eventually be presented to commissioners.

He is happy with the situation in Emergency Management.

"I think things here are great. We're focusing as a team," Roberts said. "Morale is good. Things are getting done. We're back to business as usual."

Radacky concurred: "We're doing real good. It's been a very smooth week. The employees are glad this thing is over with so we can get back to work."