Chief pursues background checks for potential city managers

Friday, February 4, 2011

Lewisburg's police chief is continuing the background checks on three of the city council's top three candidates for city manager.

Police Chief Chuck Forbis is gathering information about Alan Grindstaff, James Pennington and David Orr. Those top three were ranked in that order.

However, councilmen have been quick to point out that they're not ruling out any of the other six applicants who were interviewed, and with good reason. Mayor Barbara Woods has said that the top two, Grindstaff and Pennington, have applications pending at other cities.

Forbis has been to Texas and South Carolina for the background checks.

"I've got one more trip, I have to do which I hope to accomplish on Sunday and Monday," the chief said. "I have a third trip because one of those led me to a third place... I have some additional follow up to do on one of the candidates.

"Then there are some follow up things that I need to accomplish," Forbis said.

"In some cases I've knocked on doors and asked a neighbor about them," he said.

The chief has also met with department heads and others where the applicants worked and he's contacted references they listed. He has "a couple of people to talk to" for Orr's background check.

A former banker here, Orr said he'll work for $10,000 less than the previous manager. The next manager's salary could be $80,000, nearly the amount previously paid.

Orr has been the president of the Chamber of Commerce here.

Orr ran for county commission last year. He said he was asked to run for mayor, but realized those asking wanted him to help them.

Grindstaff's been a manager for 25 years. Ephram, Utah, had no policies or procedures and without them, councilmen were individually liable, Grindstaff said.

At one town, Grindstaff selected 16 goals. Once accomplished, he gave six-months' notice and looked for another job.

He's told managers "don't buy supplies until money is available." He "didn't take a raise for three years" when employees got one-percent raises, he said.

Pennington ran Hartsville, S.C. for more than eight years and he's run other towns.

Asked about dealing with tight budgets, he said, "The last thing you want to do is raise taxes."

Like other applicants, Pennington provided insight for the councilmen, noting that local governments always come in third during an economic recovery.

Once Forbis completes the background report, he will give it to the mayor. She's to distribute copies to councilmen and call a meeting for a decision.