Anne E. Schiferle, a 25-year Town of Amherst employee, has taken the reins of the Recreation Department after Director Jeffrey M. Bloom's death.
Bloom, 48, suffered an epileptic seizure Thursday and fell into a coma. He died Sunday in DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda.
His death came as a tremendous loss to many in Amherst. The town's recreation department had blossomed under his passionate leadership for 14 years, colleagues said.
"He was a true advocate for recreation," said Supervisor Susan J. Grelick. "He set a very high standard for recreation, and I know it's going to be very hard for us to meet that standard."
"He developed the department," Schiferle said. "A piece of him is still here."
When news of Bloom's death reached Town Hall, Grelick chose Schiferle to take over. For a decade, Schiferle worked as Bloom's second in command, making her the natural choice to step in as interim director.
"She's extremely capable," Grelick said. "Everything will continue as it had before."
The Town Board unanimously approved the interim appointment Monday. Schiferle, 42, will serve as director until a national search is conducted to find a permanent successor to Bloom.
Under the terms of the town's contract with the Civil Service Employees Association, of which Schiferle is a member, she may take a leave from her position as senior recreation supervisor for no longer than a year.
While interim director, she will earn Bloom's $65,000 base salary -- about $22,000 more than her regular salary as senior recreation supervisor.
Personally, the past few days have been difficult for Schiferle, who served as a liaison between Bloom's family and the employees in the Recreation Department, conveying news of his condition in the days after his seizure.
Professionally, stepping up to the top post under such circumstances presents quite a challenge -- one that Schiferle feels confident about. Having worked her way up through the ranks, she is well-versed in the workings of the Recreation Department.
Fourteen years ago, when Bloom came to Amherst as recreation director, Schiferle was a part-time recreation supervisor. In 1988, she took a job as a program leader with the Youth Board. After two years in that position, she was promoted to Bloom's deputy, a job she held for a decade.
As interim director, Schiferle is responsible for a department with a $2.97 million budget and 37 year-round employees.
Because she worked so closely with Bloom for many years, she is intimately acquainted with the department's projects and programs.
Citing a philosophy and priorities similar to Bloom's, she anticipates a relatively smooth transition.
"I was working in conjunction with Jeff on all the projects he was working on," Schiferle said. "I believe we've got a terrific staff. We should be able to pick up where he left off."