Four Danville city employees met Monday and narrowed down the applicant pool for the vacant police chief position to seven finalists, Interim City Manager Ron Scott told the City Commission at Monday’s meeting.
Scott, Fire Chief Woody Ball, City Engineer Earl Coffey and City Clerk Donna Peek spent about three hours reviewing 22 applications. Atlanta-based consulting firm The Mercer Group had selected the 22 from a pool of 79 applicants.
Scott declined to discuss specifics about the finalists but said the committee hopes to schedule some if not all of the interviews by the end of the month.
During a Thursday interview, Scott said the applicant pool included several current city employees and at least one additional applicant from Kentucky. Mayor Bernie Hunstad said during a separate interview a few minutes later that the quality of the applications was outstanding.
Commissioner J.H. Atkins referred to the previous interviews during the meeting, asking if the mayor had actually reviewed the applications before talking to a reporter about the quality of the applications. Hunstad said he had not seen the applications but knew from a brief discussion with Scott that the applicants were of a high caliber.
The police chief position became vacant in December, when Jay Newell resigned due to health concerns. Newell remains on the force as a patrol officer, and Tony Gray serves as interim police chief. In February, the local NAACP endorsed Gray for the permanent position.
In other business, Brent Tippey, vice president with HDR Inc., updated commissioners on the progress of the city’s $27.5 million water expansion project. Tippey said blueprints for the project, which will increase Danville’s daily pumping capacity from 10 million to 12 million gallons, are about 75 percent complete and the project is right on schedule. Officials hope to begin construction the first week of September.
Federal funding, such as a Community Development Block Grant, is needed for the project and is a “real challenge” right now with national economic conditions, Tippey said. CDBG funds have been reduced by about 25 percent, Hunstad said. However, Tippey is confident the funding challenge will be met.