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Shinnston selects city manager

by Paul Leakan


(September 13) After paring down a list of 51 applicants from across the country, Shinnston City Council named Jeffrey F. Silka as its first permanent city manager.

Council members interviewed Silka, Kim Brady of Wellsburg and Amy Haberbosch-Arco of Fairmont Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

The race was close, said interim City Manager Lee Martin, because the three final candidates were all highly qualified and impressive.

But Martin and the rest of council felt Silka's experience as the manager of Indian Lake Borough, a community in Pennsylvania, since 1995 was the deciding factor.

"It was a close race," Martin said. "I'd say his experience did it. They have all the same utilities and infrastructure similar to Shinnston. Just the fact that he's been doing the same job in Pennsylvania was more of a deciding factor than anything."

Council graded the finalists individually by scoring the applicants' abilities in pluses and minuses on a poster board.

Familiarity of the area, which was one of 14 qualities council graded, also played a large role in the decision. Council asked each applicant about his knowledge of Shinnston and the surrounding area, Martin said.

While Brady and Haberbosch-Arco knew the area better, Martin felt Silka had a positive attitude about getting to know and work with people in the community.

"His response to the question was, 'I really don't know these people. Certainly I want to get to know these people; I don't bring any baggage in that respect,'" Martin said. "So, he had a good observation there."

Silka, who lives in Somerset, Pa., earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown and a master's degree in public affairs from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He also has gained experience as the administrator of a juvenile detention center in Latrobe, Pa.

He will become Shinnston's first permanent city manager in about 30 days, Martin said. Residents amended the city's charter by voting to change to a city manager form of government in June.

Shinnston officials budgeted around $40,000 in salary and benefits, including retirement and health benefits, for the city manager position.