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Acting manager process goes behind closed doors

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- The City Council plans to vet a potential temporary manager behind closed doors in an "undisclosed location" on Thursday.

Council members voted at the end of a work session Tuesday to approve a motion to meet in closed session to conduct an interview with a possible interim city manager. The council then voted to adjourn the work session.

Specifically council approved a "Motion to convene in Executive Session Pursuant to Section 2.2- 3711(A)(1) of the Code of Virginia for the purpose of conducting interviews and discussion and consideration of information regarding the employment, assignment, and appointment of the interim City Manager.

"In accordance with the provisions of Section 2.2-3712(B) of the Code of Virginia, such proceedings shall commence within fifteen days at an undisclosed location and shall be concluded in accordance with Section 2.2-3712(D) of the Code of Virginia after selection and appointment," the motion as approved states.

Members did not say when they would reconvene in open session at which time council would vote to come out of closed session. Councilman John Tagnesi said after Tuesday's work session adjourned that members would convene for the closed session Thursday. He did not say where they plan to convene in the closed session.

Jim O'Connor plans to step down as city manager effective July 23 to accept a similar position in Vero Beach, Fla. A consulting firm selected by council continues to search for a permanent replacement. In the meantime, the council plans to appoint an interim manager.

After the work session, Councilman Les Veach explained that before hiring O'Connor, the council convened what he called a "blanket executive session" during which members met in different locations in the city to interview candidates. Veach recalled council held interviews at that time in Rouss City Hall but also at Shenandoah University and another building downtown before voting to hire O'Connor.

"I don't know if we're going to do it here yet," Veach said of the upcoming interview. "I guess he doesn't have the location decided yet."

Veach referred other questions regarding an unnamed meeting site to City Attorney Anthony Williams. A message left for Williams was not returned Tuesday night.

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