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Three are left vying to head Public Works Department

The city's new public works chief could be named sometime this week.

A pool of 20 applicants has been whittled down to the final three candidates, said Mayor Robert G. Ortt.

Ortt has been looking for someone to fill the job since early November, when former Department of Public Works Superintendent Gary J. Franklin announced that he planned to retire at the end of 2010.

Whoever gets the job will oversee a department with a $5.6 million budget for this year and about 75 employees. The salary for the job will be between $74,000 and $90,000.

The job is "one of the more critical department head positions," Ortt said, because of the department's interaction with the public on a regular basis.

Each of the three remaining candidates currently works in the public sector, and two have had private-sector experience in their careers, Ortt said.

A search committee, which included Ortt, City Engineer Dale W. Marshall, and Aldermen Dennis M. Pasiak and Eric M. Zadzilka, reviewed the resumes and participated in some candidate interviews.

A final salary has not been established yet. The department head union must agree to whatever salary is selected, the mayor said.

The job opening was listed in several local newspapers and several websites, Ortt said. Resumes were to be postmarked by Dec. 10.

All 20 resumes were vetted by the Niagara County Civil Service Office, and 18 were deemed qualified and eligible for further vetting.

Eight candidates were interviewed for the job, Ortt said.

Under the City Charter, the mayor has the power to appoint the department head, and must get the consent of the Common Council.

Ortt's appointment for public works superintendent will be the third department head vacancy filled by Ortt since he took office at the start of last year.

Former Parks and Recreation Director Jerome Whitehead retired in March 2009, and was replaced by Patricia A. Brosius, who was appointed by Ortt in April.

Former Utilities Superintendent Paul J. Drof left his post for a job with the Niagara Falls Water Board in April. In October, the city finalized a deal with the City of Lockport to share Paula Sattleberg in the position for both municipalities.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Guidotti is the acting superintendent until a replacement is named, Ortt said.

Franklin, 56, has been a public works employee for 35 years, the last 30 of which he spent as head of the department.

e-mail: abesecker@buffnews.com

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