Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014
News

Hernando government re-organizes staff in 2013

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BROOKSVILLE - This past year was a revolving door of manager shuffling and reorganization in county government.

Hernando County saw the departures in 2013 of two long-time employees, its economic development manager, airport director and the appointment of four newly minted assistant county administrators.

County Administrator Len Sossamon made a major staffing move in 2013 by taking four of his upper-level managers and adding the title of assistant administrator.

County commissioners in February unanimously approved the new assistant administrators, who will assist Sossamon with department oversight, his long-range strategic plan and the framing of budgets.

Getting salary hikes and new titles were: Assistant County Administrator for Operations Brian Malmberg, Assistant County Administrator for General Services Russ Wetherington, Assistant County Administrator for Planning & Development Ron Pianta and Assistant County Administrator of Budget and Business Development George Zoettlein.

County Commissioner Nick Nicholson said in April he would like to see all four assistant administrators cross-train and learn the ins and outs of each department so that when it comes time for a new administrator, Hernando County would have one or more at-hand and up to speed.

"I think the citizens are tired of the revolving door of administrators and there is no one ever ready to step up to the plate," Nicholson said at the time.

Sossamon also added a new title this year when county commissioners in December voted unanimously to give him a six-month trial as the county's economic development manager.

The board will evaluate his performance at the end of that period to see if he can handle his dual role.

The economic development manager position became vacant when Mike McHugh resigned Sept. 13 after 11 years.

Sossamon short-listed candidates to replace McHugh but told the board he couldn't find anyone worthy enough to take over that job.

In February, Alice Gura, the executive assistant to every administrator for a quarter of a century, retired.

Community Relations Coordinator Brenda Frazier filled in until the county found a replacement and described Gura as the "go-to" person for county administration.

"We're going to miss her tremendously," Frazier said in February. "It's going to be a huge void. She has a lot of institutionalized knowledge."

Frazier also left this year, after 37 years as public servant for Hernando County.

It was Frazier who made sure all the press releases of storms, important meetings, employee hirings and firings got out to the media. She also hosted more than 400 public service shows on the government broadcasting channel.

And again, it was Frazier who was often the go-between between department heads, county administrators and county commissioners when trying to make sure the facts got out to media so that residents were kept up-to-date.

Replacing Frazier in September as the county's new public information manager was Virginia Singe, who previously served as senior communications coordinator for the Southwest Florida Water Management District for the past 13 years.

Also leaving this year was Don Silvernell, who retired as manager of the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport July 1 after 13 years.

Silvernell and his wife moved to Boise, Idaho to be closer to family.

Replacing him was Kevin Daugherty, formerly the manager of the Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland.

mbates@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5290

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