By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FAIRFIELD TWP. - The search for a new leader of this fast-growing Butler County community has been narrowed to three finalists, including the current assistant administrator.
Meanwhile, 48 candidates from as far away as New Jersey and including Tristate contenders such as Donald Whitman, who recently resigned as Monroe's city manager, and an Evendale councilman have applied to oversee Liberty Township.
The application deadline was Monday, and Liberty trustees hope to have someone in place by early June.
In Fairfield Township, former administrator Ron Randolph retired earlier this year to move to Aiken, S.C. His last day on the job was March 21. Assistant Administrator Chris Gilbert, who is acting administrator, has applied for the post.
Fairfield Township trustees say they are in no hurry to select Randolph's replacement. A decision is expected over the next two to four weeks, Trustee Steve Morgan said.
"Chris is doing a good job filing in. We want to make sure we get the right person who will stay for a long time," Morgan said.
Fairfield Township grew from 9,000 in 1990 to an estimated 18,000 residents this year. Gilbert has been the assistant administrator and zoning inspector for the township since December 2000.
The two other Fairfield Township finalists are: Middletown resident and retired Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services team leader Howard Wells and Milford resident Michael Rahall, a former Reading safety services director. Both men also applied to oversee Liberty Township.
Acting Township Administrator Barry Tiffany, Liberty's zoning supervisor who was hired in December 2002, also has applied for the administrator's position.
Other applicants: Evendale Councilman David Harwood; William Covell, former assistant to Evendale's mayor; and H. Darrell Barger, executive director of the Butler County Transportation Improvement District (TID) from 1994 to 1998.
The TID expedited construction of the Michael A. Fox Highway, which opened in late 1999. Liberty and Butler County officials now are pushing to expand the highway with an eastward interchange.
Former Liberty administrator Nell Kilpatrick resigned effective March 1. She is working part-time for the township until Aug. 31.
Growth is a major topic in Liberty and Fairfield townships and Monroe.
Liberty's population soared from 9,500 in 1990 to 25,000 this year, with regional planners projecting that the population will triple over the next three decades, to as many as 83,000 residents.
In Monroe, where the population jumped from 4,500 residents in 1990 to more than 8,100 today, City Council last week voted to accept a resignation agreement from Whitman, who agreed to a severance package that included 90 days of pay.
Assistant City Manager William Brock will continue to act as interim city manager until the council hires a new top administrator, likely during this summer.
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