Search For New Gila County Manager Started

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The county’s 120-day hiring freeze on filling vacant positions won’t be lifted, even to hire a new county manager, supervisors decided recently.

They did agree, however, to commence a nationwide recruiting effort to fill the position.

Interim County Manager John Nelson said he would focus on Arizona. Former county manager Steve Besich died in late January.

“I thought that this was such a critical position to Gila County, especially at this time,” said Nelson.

Supervisors, however, said they thought it important to honor the freeze, implemented to minimize expenses during the economic downturn.

The new county manager will make between $88,000 and $116,000.

“I think it’s good for us to take our own medicine at this time,” said Supervisor Tommie Martin. She added that she felt it too soon to move on after Besich’s death.

“I’m not ready to start this,” she said. “That doesn’t mean I’m going to vote against it.”

Payson resident Dan Adams urged supervisors to ensure the new manager has a background in mining, which he said is the county’s most important industry.

Supervisor Shirley Dawson agreed, and told Adams she was glad someone from the north end of the county appreciated the importance of copper.

“God didn’t place pine trees in Globe, Ariz., they placed them in Payson,” she said. But Globe has been graced with copper deposits. “I believe they’re there to be mined.”

Besich, Dawson said, had worked hard to expand the industry in southern Gila County.

Martin has said that Besich’s leadership afforded little Gila County a huge degree of legislative influence.

Dawson added that layoffs around the state will leave quality managers jobless. “I would hate to see one of those quality people slip past us,” she said.

Nelson said he would ask the board to reconsider waiving the freeze if he found a qualified applicant.

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