Thursday, November 30, 2000

Consultant to lead manager search

Middletown seeking new leader

By David Eck
Enquirer Contributor

        MIDDLETOWN — The consultant who helped city leaders find City Manager Ron Olson in 1992 now will work on locating Mr. Olson's replacement.

        City commissioners decided this week to contract with Rod Bartell of Lemont, Pa., to lead a national search for a city manager.

        Mr. Olson, 51, last week said he would quit to become the business manager for Lakota schools. His last day is Dec. 29.

        Commissioners said Mr. Bartell will search based on a profile developed by reviewing current staff, the community and needs. Mr. Bartell has been an adviser to the city and has worked on other personnel searches and a retreat.

        “He's a very familiar per son with the city,” Middletown Commission Chairman Fred Sennet said. “We're anticipating 90 days or more for a national search for a new manager.”

        The search's cost has not been determined, Mr. Sennet said.

        Assistant City Manager Susan Davis will serve as acting city manager, but said she will not apply for the job.

        Some commissioners say they want a person who is a good communicator, has economic development experience and financial ability. The new manager should also have a breadth of experience in working with a large number of employees, they say, and should make a strong presence in Middletown.

        “I'd like to clone Ron Olson if I could before he takes this new job,” Mr. Sennet said. “What we need is someone, of course, who can manage the money quite well. We need someone who can relate to the community.”

        The new manger will have to handle the $13 million dismantling of City Centre Mall, potential Middletown annexations and a questionable economy.

        “General slowdown in the economy is predicted and that's probably going to impact our ability to be as aggressive as we have been,” Commission Vice Chairman Jerry Banks said. “If it's true, our increases in funds won't happen as quickly as they have in the past.”

        Commission leaders said the abilities of Mrs. Davis and the senior team will allow them to take time on a city manager search.

        Mrs. Davis has led mall work, one of the city's biggest projects.

        “We've got a very strong assistant city manager,” Mr. Banks said. “She obviously has the ability to carry on the things that we've got going on right now.”

        Officials credit Mr. Olson with bringing Middletown financial stability and the mall project to fruition.

        “He's an honest, sincere, hard-working, bottom-line kind of guy,” Mr. Sennet said. “And they're hard to find.”


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