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Town to start new manager search

By Alex Bridges

Woodstock Town Manager Larry Bradford says he still plans to retire in July after more than a quarter of a century on the job.

Bradford has reiterated to Town Council his desire to step down from the position effective July 1, 2013. Council's Personnel Committee met Monday night and entered into a closed session to discuss the matter, Bradford said Tuesday. The committee took no action when it returned to open session.

"I gave them a letter again stating that I still intended to do so, so they could start the process," Bradford said. "I just indicated that my wife and I are retiring. I'll be 66 and I don't have any desire to continue [in municipal government]. ... My time's up."

Council members will move forward on efforts to find a replacement, Bradford said. The town manager's notice gives council approximately seven months to seek out his successor.

Mayor Jeremy D. McCleary said Tuesday council plans to advertise the position immediately and leave it open until mid-January. The full council then will serve as the town manager selection committee to look at all applicants and narrow down the candidates before the panel conducts interviews, McCleary said. Council would like to hire Bradford's successor to begin July 1, according to the mayor.

"Our goal will be to have a person in place, to have settled on a candidate by early spring," McCleary said. "April's kind of our target. It'll all depend on the process and we want to make sure we do a thorough job."

The "best-case scenario" would involve the successor shadowing Bradford.

"We definitely would like to target some sort of an overlap some time where the new town manager can come in and get his bearings and become familiar so he's ready to go from day one," McCleary said.

Bradford gave members notice of his plans to retire two years ago when council renewed his contract. At that time several new members joined council. Instead of the usual renewal of four years, Bradford informed council he would seek only two years to allow for his retirement in 2013.

"He told us this would probably be the last time he would ask for his contract to be renewed," McCleary recalled. "So he has done a good job to keep us posted in that we're not taken by surprise, that we've been thinking about this and sort of knowing that this was coming."

Bradford will have served the town 26 years upon his retirement. Few top local administrators stay in one jurisdiction for longer than the average of six years.

"Certainly [we] thank him for his service over a quarter century and it's certainly an impressive tenure," McCleary said. "But at the same time it's an exciting opportunity for the town to make plans for the future years."

But Bradford has had his reasons for staying in Woodstock.

"I've had a good relationship with council all these years, so I'm leaving with a good relationship," Bradford said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com


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