Recruiter search proceeding; first 4 to be interviewed

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lewisburg's committee to review applicants for the job of industrial recruiter has selected four of nine applicants for interviews starting as soon as possible.

Mike Wiles, the executive director of the Joint Economic and Community Development Board, chaired the committee that includes JECDB Chairman Edmund Roberts, City Industrial Development Board Chairman Eddie Wiles, Mayor Barbara Woods and City Planning Commissioner Gary Davis.

Also attending the Oct. 13 meeting were Councilmen Quinn Brandon Stewart, Hershel Davis and Ronald McRady.

After discussion on procedural matters such as questioning style, topics, testing and equality, the committee discussed applicants, frequently referring to them by a number that corresponded to a list prepared for the meeting and not by name.

Members of the committee who were asked that night for the names of the four applicants who are to be invited to Lewisburg for an interview declined to state the names, indicating that was the preference of others on the panel.

Names of the nine applicants were released on Oct. 1, the deadline for applications. Two of the nine told the Tribune they knew applicants' names are part of a public record, but that they preferred not to be named in a story. They have not been named. Those two were not selected for the first four interviews.

News interviews with some of the nine revealed that at least one of the applicants realizes that after speaking with the committee it may be clear that the job is not a right fit for his career goals or for some other reason.

"We need to select some to talk to," Woods said as committee discussion shifted from interview ground rules to applicants. The mayor suggested that the committee "start with candidates with degrees and experience. If we find one (who fits the qualifications and is agreeable) then we're through."

Qualifications for the job initially required a college degree, but that was removed on a vote by the City Council.

More than two city officials were aware on the night of the Oct. 13 meeting that the names were requested and that the names are public record. Reasons to not release the names included a preference for applicants to be notified by the city so they wouldn't be just reading their names in the newspaper.

Another reason is that the first four may not accept or even be offered a job, so the other five applicants may become viable and that raises the question about how they might feel if they get the job after being revealed as a second or third choice.

The four applicants who are to be interviewed are as follows.

Greg Lowe, the city's stormwater management director who's also serving as the city's codes enforcement officer. He's a former editor of the Marshall County Tribune. Lowe attended Columbia State Community College and is a graduate of Marshall County High School.

B. Shane Burris of Lake City, Tenn., is the immediate past industrial development director for Monroe County, Tenn., a job he held for 18 years. He was "let go" after an election, he said. He's also been a loan officer for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. His bachelor's degree is in business administration from the University of Tennessee.

Dean Barber of Fort Wayne, Ind., is a freelance news writer helping friends who are business consultants. He was the business news editor for the Birmingham News and previously wrote for the Ledger-Inquirer of Columbus, Ga.

Dennis Jarvis II of Smithers, W. Va., is working in a job funded through a grant that expires at the end of this year, so he's looking for work now, in anticipation of the conclusion of the job he has now.

The committee to review applicants for the job of industrial recruiter does not have a formal name, although legal notices announcing its meetings have referred to it as the review committee.

Woods, Roberts, Davis, Mike Wiles and Eddie Wiles agreed to schedule a meeting on Tuesday evening this week. Other dates discussed for possible meetings when interviews might be conducted -- depending on the availability of the applicants -- include Oct. 23-27, and Nov. 11 and 15-17. Interviews are expected to last about an hour.

Roberts expressed a preference that the questions not be announced before the interviews although some areas of question have been revealed by the advertisement, details available at City Hall and the very nature of the job and hiring practices in Tennessee.