Assistant clerk OK’d in Chester

CHESTER – For Chester City Councilman John Woodruff, the new assistant city clerk has all the right qualifications except one – she doesn’t live in Chester.

Woodruff was the sole “no” vote in city council’s decision Monday to hire Carol Farish as the new assistant city clerk. Farish, of New Cumberland, will succeed the retiring Nancy Woods effective July 1.

Councilmen Mike Dotson, Dennis Murray and Brian Handley voted for Farish’s hiring. Councilman Steve Shuman had an excused absence Monday.

“I just thought we should have considered a person from Chester,” Woodruff said. “I’ve got nothing against her, but I still think we could have hired from Chester.”

Even though Chester does not have a residency requirement for city employees, Woodruff said it’s a good idea, whenever possible, for the city to hire Chester residents.

Woodruff said he believes there were qualified candidates from Chester.

In the weeks following the April 15 announcement of Woods’ retirement, the city received 75 applications for the assistant clerk position, said City Clerk Sandra Parkins. Twenty-six of them were interviewed, she said.

“I was just looking for someone who had some computer skills,” Parkins said. “I made the recommendation to the mayor (Ken Morris), and he made the recommendation to council.”

Farish will assist Parkins with all her duties, including collecting fees, handling payroll, answering phones and performing secretarial tasks. The pay rate for the full-time position is $10 an hour.

Farish comes to the city of Chester with 23 years’ experience working for Hancock County, most recently as executive assistant to former Sheriff Mike White. She retired from the county at the end of 2012.

Handley said he was impressed with Farish’s qualifications, which he said more than compensated for the fact that she doesn’t live in Chester.

“She has experience with computers. She’s worked with payroll,” he said. “She’s probably overqualified.”

Dotson, who participated in some of the interviews, would not comment on the residency issue but said, “Everybody was qualified. We had a good list of candidates.”

Murray could not be reached for comment.

In other business Monday, council:

Accepted the resignation of Chester Police Lt. Jim Bryan, who is retiring effective July 3 after 25 years as a police officer;

Tabled action on the city’s property and liability insurance coverage until Parkins gets more information;

Discussed the citywide problem of stray cats; and

Learned the city has received an $8,000 matching grant for repairs to the Chester Municipal Building, including the front steps and entrance.

“We need to re-do the front of the building a little bit and make it more customer-friendly,” Dotson said.

The work is expected to be done this summer, once bids are awarded.

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