Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

July 20, 2013

Key city jobs turning over

Carrie Stambaugh
The Independent

ASHLAND — A number of key positions at the City of Ashland are turning over because of retirements and departures.

In addition to City Manager Stephen Corbitt’s retirement, City Clerk and Human Resources Director Deborah Musser will retire Sept. 1, after 34 years on the job, while Ashland Fire Department Battalion Chief Bob McKeon will retire at the end of July.

The spate of upcoming retirements coincides with the departure of other key staffers earlier this year. Risk manager Jeff Walters left Ashland in June to take a position working on the Bluestone Dam in W.Va., and benefits administrator, alcohol beverage control administrator and assistant city clerk Michelle Merchant became a contract employee earlier this year.

 The vacancies have caused a flurry of personnel activity within the city, with officials revising job descriptions as they prepare to fill the jobs. In preparation for Musser’s retirement, city commissioners approved a new revised job description for the post Thursday.

The new job strips out the city clerk duties, which now belong to legal assistant Susan Maddix, who had been assisting Musser for many years. Musser is the only HR director and city clerk in the state of Kentucky, and  the changes bring Ashland in line with other cities of its size, she said.

Ashland has not formally begun the search for a new human resource director, but Corbitt hopes to start immediately.

“It was my opinion we would go ahead and move to advertise before she goes. It is my opinion there are plenty of qualified HR people in this area,” said Corbitt.

“I think we should start advertising. I don’t see any reason to wait. It’s an important position.”

Also on Thursday, city commissioners approved hiring Colin Baenziger & Associates, based in Wellington, Fla., to conduct the search for Corbitt’s successor. Ashland will pay the firm $19,000.

Corbitt said the firm averages 88 days to place a city manager and the company is currently working with six cities ranging in size from 6,500 to 217,000. Corbitt had hoped to retire on July 31, but has agreed to continue working until his replacement is found.

Musser said the city is close to hiring a new risk manager, who could be on board in the coming weeks. Merchant’s job was filled internally last month by Candy Hale, who has worked for the city a number of years in engineering department.

Ashland is actively accepting applications for firefighters but just how many positions will be filled remains undecided, said Musser.  Applications for firefighters will be accepted through 4 p.m. Friday.

In addition to hiring new firefighters, the AFD will complete a number of promotions within the department to fill McKeon’s post and others, she said.

McKeon is one of three battalion chiefs on the department who are responsible for overseeing the day-to-day duties of one of three 24-hour shifts at the department, which is already struggling with understaffing.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at (606)