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City edges closer to hiring administrator

The City Council met in a closed session Jan. 29 to interview five candidates for the city administrator's job vacated by the retired Bernie Van Osdale.

Afterward it narrowed the list to two finalists: Scot Simpson, city administrator in Lancaster; and Kenneth Witt, the city administrator in Sparta.

River Falls' Interim City Administrator Julie Bergstrom said the council has not yet set the final interviews but expects to do that and decide who gets the job in the next few weeks.

Consultant Jim Geissner with La Crosse-based People First HR Solutions fielded the 53 applications for the open position. He screened candidates and pared down the list to the five the council interviewed last week.

Simpson earned a master's in public administration from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and a bachelor's in business administration from Carroll College in Waukesha. He offers about five years of city administrator experience and about 10 years overall professional experience.

Witt earned a master's in public administration and a bachelor's in business administration-accounting plus certification as a public manager from the University of Wisconsin (Whitewater and Madison respectively). He offers 12 years of municipal administrator experience and about 20 years overall professional experience, including five years of service in the U.S. Army Reserves.

The other three prospects: James Norman, interim city administrator in Afton, Minn.; Randall Reeg, city administrator/clerk-treasurer in Thorp; and Neil Soltis, administrator/clerk/treasurer in Osceola.

Bergstrom said the five candidates answered many questions during the session, including: Why they are interested in the job; what their leadership style is like; what kind of experience they have with boundary agreements, economic development and human resources; and how they'll cultivate a culture of customer service at City Hall.