The Decatur City Council next week will interview two current employees plus an external candidate for the director of Environmental Services, responsible for garbage and debris pickup, even though at least one councilman wanted to reopen the search.

The council chose to interview internal candidates Environmental Services Manager Reginald Carter, who supervises Decatur's Solid Waste division, and Allen Stover, Community Development manager.

The external candidate is Christopher Howell, the county engineer of Fayette County.

Rickey Terry plans to retire Sept. 30 as Street and Environmental Services director. The advertised pay range is $70,854 to $107,813 annually.

Terry's imminent retirement prompted a departmental reorganization. The Street division will move under City Engineer Carl Prewitt, and he will continue to answer to Director of Development Dane Shaw. The person hired as Environmental Services Department director will oversee the Sanitation division and the city maintenance garage.

The city received applications from 13 candidates deemed by Human Resources Director Richelle Sandlin to be qualified for the Environmental Services position.

The council members and Mayor Tab Bowling each submitted the names of the applicants they wanted to interview. Five of the six said they would like to interview Carter and Stover, Sandlin said.

Council President Jacob Ladner, Councilman Kyle Pike and Bowling also suggested Howell. Bowling presented a fourth candidate, Steven Parsons, regional manager of Heavy Machines Inc. of Birmingham, but Parsons didn’t make the final cut. Councilman Billy Jackson only supported interviewing Stover for the position. 

Councilman Carlton McMasters said he is OK with interviewing the two internal candidates, but his request to reopen the application period for external candidates was quickly rebuffed Monday by Ladner, Pike and Councilman Hunter Pepper.

McMasters said he was unhappy with the 11 external applicants. He said he would rather interview the two internal candidates and open up the application period to see if additional candidates would apply.

“This wasn’t a reflection on the in-house applicants at all,” McMasters said. “I just didn’t think the other candidates have the experience that we want. But majority rules, and I’m fine with their choice.”

Ladner, on the other hand, said he prefers to go through the interview process “and see if there’s any viable applicants” to know if reopening the application process is necessary.

“We need to find out about this group first,” Ladner said. “You never know what we find. I’ve been surprised before. If we don’t have the right candidate after the interviews, then we keep looking.”

Pepper said he thinks the applicants “should be given a chance before we move on and reopen the application process. I don’t know why Mr. McMasters didn’t want to take the opportunity to even hear what these people have to say.”

Pepper said he would like to see an internal candidate prevail, but he’s open to the possibility of hiring the outside applicant.

“The internal candidates know how we operate and there wouldn’t be a need for much training,” Pepper said. “But, if the external candidate is the better choice, I have no problem with hiring him.”

Ladner set the interviews for 8:30 a.m. Sept. 22 at Decatur City Hall’s seventh floor.

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