Council begins manager search

City plans to make the hire by February

The City of Hood River is moving forward in its search for a new permanent city manager with the hopes of having the new candidate selected by winter’s end.

During an Oct. 15 Hood River City Council meeting, council and Mayor Arthur Babitz examined the recruitment schedule proposed by Prothman and Associates: an executive recruitment firm from Issaquah, Wash., that has been awarded an $18,500 contract by the city to helm the search for a new city manager.

Former City Manager Bob Francis left the position July 8 after a series of disagreements between him, Babitz and some council members resulted in Francis tendering his resignation. Planning Director Cindy Walbridge filled the vacancy left by Francis until Don Otterman took over as interim city manager Aug. 20.

Special Meeting

City Council will hold a special meeting on Monday at 5 p.m. to discuss and receive public input on the City Manager profile drafted by recruitment firm Prothman and Associates.

The regular scheduled City Council meeting will follow at 6 p.m. Council will approval the final draft of the profile during work session. The meetings will be in the City Council Chambers, 211 Second St., Hood River.

The process to find Francis’ permanent replacement will be an exhaustive one and is expected to take at least four months.

Greg Prothman of Prothman and Associates was present at the meeting to explain the process. He said his firm would send out “about 600 or 700 letters of invitation” to current city managers in western states and said Hood River should expect to receive “somewhere in the neighborhood of 45-50 applications,” which he described as a typical number for a city the size of Hood River. He cautioned against advertising and mailing letters east of the Rockies due to the added expense and his perception that “cultural differences” between the structuring of municipal law on the East Coast and the West Coast would make the Hood River position undesirable to potential East Coast candidates.

A profile of the ideal candidate, including job qualifications and desired personality attributes, will be crafted by the city to help in the process, while Prothman will prepare salary recommendations for the position based on the current market.

The recruitment schedule calls for the position to be advertised from Nov. 12 to Jan. 12 and applications to be screened shortly afterwards. Prothman said applications would be sorted into “yes, no, maybe” piles and then narrowed down to 10-15 potential candidates to be interviewed. Background checks and Google checks will be performed on these candidates’ histories, Prothman said, although he noted “there shouldn’t be too many surprises.”

A council work session to review semifinalist interviews was tentatively scheduled for Jan. 27, with final interviews to be conducted during the second or third week in February.

Babitz asked Prothman how often his firm was unable to find a suitable candidate at the conclusion of a search. Prothman estimated once in every 15 searches.

“If we don’t have the right candidate, we’ll pull back, re-source, and start again,” he explained.

Babitz also asked what opportunities there were for “the public to have access” to participating in the selection process.

Prothman said it was certainly possible as well as beneficial to seek public input to help aid in the search for the city manager candidate. He suggested holding a public meeting or selecting a panel of local community members, business owners, and organization heads to weigh in on candidates.

Babitz asked council members for their thoughts.

“Personally, I think we should have a public meeting,” said councilor Kate McBride. “If we choose people then it seems to be targeted to the people we might choose. So I think it should be more open than that.”

Councilor Mark Zanmiller agreed and advocated the process should be “as transparent as possible.”

Council reached consensus on holding public meetings to help in the city manager selection process, with the dates of the meetings to be scheduled at a future time.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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