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School District Goes Local

In last week's column we listed the three finalists for the superintendent position for the Bend-La Pine School District. As it turns out, by the


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In last week's column we listed the three finalists for the superintendent position for the Bend-La Pine School District. As it turns out, by the time the paper had hit the streets, the district's board of directors had concluded their search, choosing one of their own by way of a 6-1 vote: Ron Wilkinson, the district's deputy superintendent for almost seven years.

With 31 years of educational experience, Wilkinson was one of three finalists for the job, but the only one with local experience. Wilkinson will take the place of current superintendent Doug Nelson, who is retiring in June after eight years with the district. The other two finalists for the job had experience working in education in Wyoming and California's Bay Area.

Hovekamp doesn't see Wilkinson's hiring as a total surprise, but says Wilkinson wasn't given preferntial treatment during the hiring process.

"Having worked with Ron for a few years, I suspected he would be a strong candidate," Hovekamp said. "During the course of the interview and getting to know his background and his strengths as well as hearing from the community, it became evident that Ron was a very good fit."

School board member Nathan Hovekamp told us that the district had hired an independent consulting firm to conduct the search for the top position. The agency searched for candidates from throughout the country, which included some travel as well as the transportation of candidates to Bend for interviews. When it was all said and done, the tab wasn't exactly cheap.

Hovekamp said that the base fee for the agency was $23,000, but there were additional charges to follow, including about $8,000 for "consultant expenses," around $6,000 for candidate expenses, and about $4,000 for other expenses, including advertising the position.

All in all, these added up to a cost of $41,281 for the total hiring process, according to Hovekamp.

Now knowing that the school board accrued these costs for a national search for the position only to choose someone from within their own ranks, Hovekamp still doesn't see the fees for the consulting firm as money wasted and said he doesn't regret the way in which the district conducted the search.

"I think it was money well spent. We would always ask ourselves if we hadn't [performed a national search] - 'did we have the most thorough process that we possibly could for the community?'" he said.

Interim Goes Permanent?

The city of Bend very well might take a page out of the school board's book and hire a city manager from within its own ranks, rather than bring in an outsider, as the city has done when previously hiring applicants for the position. Eric King, who was named Interim City Manager when Harold "Andy" Anderson was fired from the position in December, has announced that he will be applying to become the permanent city manager.

The city is in the midst of a national search for a city manager, with the help of The Waters Consulting Group, Inc., a Dallas-based firm that specializing in human resources consulting for local and state agencies. The original plan for the hiring process stated that the applicants would be reviewed on March 31, and it appears that King's resume is sliding under the door just in time for the position, which has a posted starting annual salary of $150,000.

King stepped in as acting city manager in the midst of several major projects for the city, most notably the Juniper Ridge development and the hullabaloo surrounding it. He's also been in the saddle as the city deals with a number of budgetary problems, including a shifting of funds and changes in the city's personnel.

The last time the city used a consulting firm to assist in the hiring of a city manager, the price tag ran upwards of $37,000.

There's room for even more of this "hiring from within" trend as the city also has vancaies at other positions, including, but not limimted to communications manager, police chief, and fire chief.

Before you toss that match...

Remember those new open burning regulations that we were talking about in recent months? Well, the laws went into effect last week, getting rid of the 40 days of open burning during both the spring and fall that were previously on the books.

Now, the city regulations only allow for two days of burning in the month of November, if you live on two or more acres of land AND have a permit from the fire department. The Bend City Council passed the ordinance earlier this year in an effort to improve air quality within city limits, at the urgence of health and fire officials alike. The new regulations took effect on March 7.

What happens if you decide to set your four-month old Christmas tree on fire in your backyard? You could be looking at a fine and court costs of $327. In lieu of burning yard waste and other debris, the city is encouraging residents to take the refuse to the Knott Landfill, where they can dispose of it at no cost from April 19-27.

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