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Two departures

Mar 10, 2017 By Steven R. Peck

Riverton is losing two key leaders almost simultaneously

Stability in municipal government is taking a hit in Riverton as winter winds down. Two high-profile leaders apparently are leaving City Hall.

Actually, there's no "apparently" about the first one. Steven Weaver left the city administrator's post at the end of February.

And now it's become known that chief of police Mike Broadhead is being offered a chief's position he sought in Georgia. His hiring there is expected to be finalized next week.

That's a lot of ability, experience and institutional knowledge walking out of 816 North Federal Boulevard at the same time. The impact will be felt. Finding good successors is imperative

Among other things, municipal budget time is approaching, and department heads are key to the process. With the state's economy still in recession and municipal funding feeling the accompanying pinch, experience in budgeting takes on ever more importance than usual.

The city got a break this week on that score, when former city clerk/treasurer Courtney Bohlender agreed to return to city hall to handle the administrator's duties on an interim basis. She was a very experienced hand when she left her job last year, and the details of city government are still fresh in her mind. Riverton made a smart move in offering her the interim position.

The administrator's job is being advertised now, with applications already in hand. It could take months to fill the vacancy permanently, so Bohlender's experienced hand instills confidence that city operations will go forward in good shape.

Might a similar situation emerge in the RPD if chief Broadhead departs? That's not official yet, but the local paper in Statesboro, Ga., where Broadhead's offer is coming from, reports that a two-week waiting period there is merely a formality before Broadhead accepts the job. Some kind interim structure will need to be found for RPD as well.

The police department is large by Riverton standards, and there is a well-established hierarchy that defines a chain of command from the chief on down. There are command officers -- sergeants, lieutenants and captains -- in positions of high leadership already.

An RPD captain is a prominent official in his or her own right, and anyone holding that position logically could be considered a candidate for the top job. There may well be other interested candidates as well who already wear the RPD uniform.

In the RPD's past such internal promotions have taken place, but that not a given. It wasn't the case when Broadhead came aboard. He was an outside hire. Today, the ranking officers under his command have operated within the structure he established and under his personal leadership as well. An internal applicant for chief would be a good bet.

This is important business. Even in cities smaller than ours, the demands of municipal government have become so large, varied and complicated that trained, qualified, experienced professionals are essential in these major departmental posts. Riverton is losing two at once. A successful recruitment and hiring process demands the highest priority for 2017. Plans appear to be in place to accomplish it.

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