GAMBIER — The village of Gambier is currently in the process of interviewing five finalists for the village administrator position, with interim village Administrator Dave Martin saying the interviews should conclude by the first week of January.
At least two of the finalists have ties to Knox County. The five who made the final cut were taken from an initial list of 32 applicants.
Applicants were required to have 10 years of municipal government experience or its equivalent. Mayor Kachen Kimmell said it was exciting to see the village receive so many qualified applicants and called it a successful search. The interview process is lengthy for each carefully vetted finalist, Martin said, and includes a village tour.
Because three holidays were involved during the applicants’ reviews and candidate selection process — Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s — Kimmell said she does not anticipate the village selecting a new administrator until Feb. 1 at the earliest. The successful candidate will replace Suzanne Hopkins, who resigned this past August under a cloud of questions involving a state Environmental Protection Agency investigation.
The following is a list of the five village administrator finalists and their qualifications:
•Gary Burkholder of Etna has served since 2015 as the city manager of Brookville in Montgomery County. He listed his achievements in Brookville as including receipt of more than $1 million in grants, and successfully securing a $6.3 million bond for a new fire station this year. He also served four years as village administrator in Hartford; as a trustee with the Southwest Licking County Water and Sewer District; as a township trustee for Etna Township; and as a city councilor in Pickerington. He has also been a research associate with the Ohio Governor’s Office of Criminal Justice Services Statistical Analysis Center; served as a probation officer and bailiff in Port Clinton; and served as president and founder of NorthCoast Research Inc., of Reynoldsburg. The company provides investigations into areas such as workmen’s compensation and the Family Medical Leave Act.
•Richard S. Dzik of Columbus currently serves as government consultant with Crowe LLP, advising government clients including municipalities, school districts and economic development entities the past two years. Well known to Knox County officials, Dzik previously served as the county’s 911 director for five years, where he listed accomplishments that included consolidation of Knox County’s 911 dispatch centers, upgrading county radio and call-taking systems, and managing a 30-person work force of 911 dispatchers. He also served in an interim capacity as the county’s Emergency Management Agency director in 2012. Dzik also has 15 years of Knox County experience as a frontline firefighter and Emergency Medical Services worker, including time as a fire captain and fire lieutenant in Gambier, and in multiple positions in the county as a firefighter/paramedic for seven years. He is certified as a Firefighter II with the Ohio Department of Public Safety, and certified with the same agency as an EMT-Paramedic.
•Steven B. Stilwell of Utica has spent the past two years as a laborer with his family’s Diamond Hill Farm, and before that, amassed more than 35 years of administrative experience in six communities, four of them college towns. He worked four years as an assistant village manager in Yellow Springs, where Stilwell stated that he added grants and other revenue to the budget. As the village manager for seven years in Elk Rapids, Michigan, he cited an achievement in helping to develop a waterfront while maintaining village identity. He also worked as city manager for 13 years in Big Rapids, Michigan, where he listed helping the city recover from the recall of three council members his first year in his job. During the “Great Recession” of 2008-09, Stilwell stated he helped the city maintain services when income tax revenue declined from $13 million to $10 million. Most recently, as village manager of Granville from 2011 to 2016, he listed helping the council develop goals necessary to become a “cohesive voice of leadership.”
•Garr Uram of Mount Vernon has served the past five years as water treatment operator for the city of Mount Vernon, where he retired following a 20-year Air Force career. With a background in mathematics and computer software, Guram stated that he chose a career path that has involved serving in positions that benefit his community. They included being a human resources officer for four years with Lancaster City Schools; serving as a network engineer for heating and cooling products at two manufacturing plants; serving as a logistics manager for Knox County Head Start for four years; and serving as a computer systems security officer for the US Air Force from 1981 to 2002. Uram stated that his achievements, including fiscal management at the Air Force and at Head Start, have included success in the ability to prepare, manage, review, and stay within established budgets. He also cited his being able at Head Start to reduce contract service fees to save funds.
•Ralph C. Wise of Hebron currently serves as village administrator of Hebron, located in Licking County, a position he has held the past six years. He has accumulated more than 18 years of experience as a city manager and administrator, from a combined city/county government to small historic communities. Wise states that he has demonstrated a determination to be more environmentally conscious, “ranging from using more sustainable energy sources to recycling to coordinating solid waste and energy contracts. He has been in charge of human resources, finance, budgeting, grant writing and procurement. He also lists saving lives and money by establishing a cross-trained fire-and-EMS program in Fostoria, and setting up one of the first opt-in natural gas aggregation programs for Fostoria residents. Before his six years in Hebron, his other most recent positions were four years as city manager in Russell, Kansas, and Fostoria’s director of public safety for five years.