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HISTORIAN, FAULTING PROCESS, TRIES TO KEEP JOB

Six candidates for county historian, including incumbent David L. Dickinson, are to be interviewed Wednesday by the County Legislature's Administration Committee.

Dickinson, who was hired in January on a provisional basis, was tied for fifth in the results of a civil service examination given for the job in June, but he has protested that the content of the test was not appropriate for his actual duties and did not conform to the material he was told would be on the test.

Normally, only the top three finishers on a civil service test can be considered for an appointment unless they decide that they do not want the job. In this case, there are four eligibles because there was a tie for third place.

Asked why the committee is interviewing more than those four candidates, County Attorney Ralph A. Boniello III responded, "What if someone drops out?"

"I think we'll find that out in the interview process," said Administration Committee Chairman James W. Ward, R-Newfane. "We're doing them all."

But he acknowledged that Dickinson cannot be hired unless two candidates with higher scores drop out of the running. "We're certainly going to do whatever is the requirement," Ward said.

Ward thinks that Dickinson has done an excellent job and is disappointed that he might have to be dropped from the $33,455-a-year post.

Ward said he wants to hold off hiring someone until an official state response is received to the county's requests for a ruling on Dickinson's objections to the content of the examination.

However, a letter received last month from Albany appeared to dismiss Dickinson's complaints, saying the test was based on job specifications submitted by the county. It said Dickinson should have complained when the exam announcement was posted or when the pre-rating session was held. He did not send in any objections until after the scores were posted.

Ward said Boniello was asked to find out whether Dickinson has any recourse. "Whatever Ralph and Human Resources tell the committee, we'll comply with that," Ward said.

Ward said he was told that the county did not have to conduct a written exam and that a competitive rating of applicants' professional credentials could have been used instead. Ward said that this is how Dickinson's predecessor, Dorothy Rolling, got the historian's job. This was the first time a written test was given for the position.

Wednesday is supposed to be the deadline for a new hiring, but Dickinson said, "I have not been told to vacate the office. I guess I'm taking the position that I'll show up for work until they tell me not to."

The four candidates ahead of Dickinson are Linda E. Deeks and Franklin E. Pfeil, both of Lockport, Carol A. Schwartz of Wheatfield and Susan L. Penfold of North Tonawanda.

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