The Strasburg Town Council on Tuesday night appointed Public Works Director Jay McKinley as the temporary town manager effective May 3.
McKinley, who has been with the town since 1994, has previously served as a temporary town manager.
“He did a great job at it,” Mayor Brandy Boies said during a phone interview Wednesday on McKinley’s experience in filling in for the position.
McKinley’s appointment came as the council also accepted the resignation of Town Manager Wyatt Pearson, who will be leaving for the top planning and development position with Frederick County.
McKinley will still oversee public works and the town manager responsibilities with help from a public works employee who will be taking on increased responsibilities in their department, Boies said. She added they will receive a pay increase.
The search for a permanent new town manager is looking to be completed within six months, and hopefully within three to four months, Boies said. She said a search firm will not be used for cost savings, and council members will be conducting the process themselves with help from a contracted administrative assistant.
Some council members took the time during Monday's meeting to comment on Pearson leaving, as it was his last meeting with the town after being appointed in May 2017.
“We wish you the best,” said longtime Councilwoman Taralyn Nicholson, after saying she hopes Pearson thinks about them when he puts a tie on that is purple, which is Strasburg High's school color.
“I think that Strasburg has been so lucky to have you on staff, at first in the Planning Department and then as our town manager,” Councilwoman Emily Reynolds said. “Thank you, Wyatt.”
“He will be missed,” said Councilman John Massoud.
Councilwoman Christie Monahan, in a joking manner, said she refused to accept Pearson’s resignation before voting to accept it.
“Being a new mayor, I could tell from the first day you have built a team here that completely trusts you and your staff, and even the council,” Boies said during her mayoral comment portion of the meeting. “And that’s not easy to do.”
Pearson, 29, who was promoted to the position after starting in the town’s Planning Department, took a moment to thank the council.
“I’ve met and gotten to know so many people and served along a great group of friends and colleagues in my time here,” Pearson said. “I’ll definitely think very fondly of my time working here.”
In other action Tuesday night, Miller told the council that the petition that sought to remove former Mayor Rich Orndorff has concluded.
The petition was previously dismissed for technical matters, Miller previously told the council, but state code requires that if a case involving a political figure is dismissed, the locality is responsible for the legal fees. The bill total was initially about $17,000, but a circuit court judge reduced it to $2,700 after a motion objecting to the amount was filed, Miller noted.
An appeal to the reduction by Orndorff’s legal team was filed with the Virginia Supreme Court, Miller previously told the council, but on Tuesday he said his office received a letter from Orndorff’s legal team and the town will be paying the $2,700 amount, ending the case.
Orndorff, who recently took over management of the Wayside Inn in Middletown, has criminal DUI and fraud charges pending against him that were at the Shenandoah County Circuit Court level but were sent back to Shenandoah General District Court in February 2020. No hearings in the district court have been scheduled since they were sent back to the lower-level court, according to online court records.
Also Tuesday, the council approved the reallocation of about $22,000 to connect an exposed, open-ended pipe behind the property that is behind a restaurant on East King Street.
The exposed pipe was discovered as part of Phase III of the Streetscape project and recommended to be fixed by the town to prevent future compromising of King Street, which it runs under, as other involved parties declined to take full responsibility for it.
The Streetscape project was expected to finish in August, but Mckinley, as part of his public works director department report to the council, said some materials of poor quality that were received could lead to timeline and budget implications. McKinley said he would report back once he had more firm numbers on the topic.