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Commission narrows applicant pool to four

By Staff | Jul 22, 2016

Jefferson County commissioners have chosen four individuals out of 18 applicants to be interviewed during this week’s meeting for a position on the board. Commission President Patsy Noland said the board was able to narrow the selection based on the same process used for appointing the sheriff previously.

“Out of all the applicants, (commissioners) sent their top three picks to our county administrator, and they were tallied to pick the top three or four,” Noland said in a Tuesday telephone interview. “That’s how we came to the four that we came to, and those people will be the ones we interview.”

The four applicants chosen for public interviews are Gary Dungan, Peter Onoszko, Ann Maddy Smith and Daniel J. Zappe. Each of the applicants chosen represent the Harpers Ferry magisterial district, and two of them – Onoszko and Dungan – were recommended picks by the Jefferson County Republican Executive Committee.

The vacancy was created on the board after former commissioner Eric Bell resigned late last month in the wake of charges concerning an alleged inappropriate relationship with a teenage boy. Noland said she hopes the board will be able to make a decision during Thursday’s meeting.

“It’s my hope that whoever that person is that’s going to get the job will be immediately sworn in and have a seat at the table with us,” Noland said. “We’re also having a meet and greet at the (Friendship) fire hall (in Harpers Ferry), so it would be my hope that (the appointee) would be able to participate in that meeting. We haven’t discussed this (as a commission), so that’s just my personal hope and opinion.”

If the board is not able to make an appointment for the vacancy by the end of the month, the decision will be defaulted to the Jefferson County Republican Executive Committee.

While Noland said the board’s legal counsel is expected to give them advice Thursday before an appointment is made, she does not anticipate an executive decision for that conversation during the meeting.

“We are going to have Nathan Cochran discuss the attorney general’s opinion and highlight the legal requirements that we’re going to use (with this appointment). We just want to make sure we’re on the same page, then we’ll make the decision,” Noland said.

“(Deputy County Administrator) Sandy McDonald is calling (the four applicants), asking them to come in for interviews. I can’t imagine why there would have to be an executive session, and I anticipate that everything will be open to the public.”

Once appointed, the new commissioner would fill Bell’s unexpired term unless otherwise noted by the board moving forward in the decision-making process.