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Search goes on for police chief, town manager

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Two candidates have turned down offers for the manager post due to pay issues, the mayor says.

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — While still trying to get a new town manager onboard, Hillsville Town Council members moved along the process of selecting a new police chief Monday.
Hillsville has been without administrators in those two positions since long-time town manager Larry South and police chief Steve Williams resigned in June before the composition of town council changed in July.
Officials have contacted two candidates for town manager to make offers, but neither of them had accepted by the Monday meeting.
On the matter of the police chief selection process, Mayor Greg Crowder asked council members Greg Yonce and Billy Walls Sr. to name their appointments to the police chief selection panel.
Yonce had the task of finding a current or former police chief to provide a law enforcement perspective, Crowder noted.
After asking around, Yonce told his fellow council members he asked Abingdon Police Chief Tony Sullivan to assist with the hiring effort.
“He would be very willing to help with this process,” Yonce noted.
Walls had the task of selecting a representative of the business community. He appointed Sharon Cruise from Hi-Fashion.
The panel will review the close to 60 applications that Hillsville received for its police chief position, Crowder explained. They will be responsible for narrowing the group of candidates to interview down to six by scoring the applications on their qualifications.
Out of those six interviewees, council will choose the next police chief, Crowder said.
After closed session, council members voted to readvertise for the town manager position until the end of the month.
It will take at least two weeks to interview remaining candidates for the town manager position, Crowder told The Gazette after the meeting. In that time, they might be able to attract more candidates who are qualified.
While the position originally had 40 applicants, the mayor said 11 were qualified to be town manager.
The top two choices turned down the job. Crowder believes that is due to the pay.
Those making a $130,000 salary in another state find it hard to justify taking the position at what Hillsville can afford to pay, he said. Though many of the candidates wanted to move to the mountains, they didn’t realize what financial resources the town had available.
Making a decision this important means that town council should take its time.
“There’s no need to make a sudden rush,” Crowder said. “When we hire someone we hope they’re here for a long time. We want to put them in a position to succeed.”