Search leads Ferdinand to familiar voice

By JONATHAN STREETMAN
Herald Staff Writer

FERDINAND — The “voice of Ferdinand” will soon be its new town manager, after a move by the town council during a special meeting Monday.

James

Chris James, the longtime high school sports announcer on WITZ/WQKZ, accepted the board’s offer of employment during a brief meeting with one item on the agenda.

“The search for the town manager has taken some time. We wanted to make sure we were able to find the right person to do the job, and we had said a number of times, ”˜Let’s not rush into anything,’” Council President Ken Sicard said.

During the search that started in September, 14 applications were received by the council. Of those, nine applicants were interviewed before the list was narrowed to a final three, who then went through a second round of interviews.

James, 43, whom Sicard called a surprise applicant, was selected and offered the position Monday.

The position carries with it a $55,640 annual salary based on a 45-hour workweek.

James is a 1989 graduate of Perry Central High School and a graduate of Vincennes University with a degree in broadcasting. He has worked at radio station WITZ/WQKZ for 16 years.

It is the responsibility of the town manager to handle day-to-day operations for the Town of Ferdinand, as well as act as the town’s human resources coordinator, assisting department supervisors, overseeing safety concerns, working on potential marketing ideas and campaigns and addressing any community concerns.

James accepted the council’s offer and will begin his new post Jan. 6, pending a mandatory drug test.

“I’m really thrilled to have Chris on board. Especially, he’s kind of the voice of Ferdinand, I’ve always thought,” council member Debbie Johnson said. “He’s the voice of Park Forest (High School) sports, and now when people hear that voice, they’ll also know he’s the voice of Ferdinand.”

James’ decision to take on this new challenge was a “family-based decision.” James and his wife, lifelong Ferdinand resident Trina (Emmert), have two sons, Trevor, 4, and Tristan, 2.

“I love radio; it was never an issue of wanting to leave there. But I have two young sons and I wanted to be able to have more time at home with them than my current position would allow,” James said. “After a while they forget who daddy is and I don’t want that to happen.”

As the new town manager, James plans to throw himself into the job and work with the department heads, learning “what they do, how they do, why they do.”

“Once I get a handle on that, then sort of put my vision into place and see if there’s ways of maybe making things run more efficiently, more effectively,” James said.

Marc Steczyk, the town’s first town manager, vacated the post in August after spending six years there. “I’m going to take the strong work that Marc did and continue to build on that,” James said.

James will continue to work part time at the radio station, broadcasting Forest Park High School football and boys basketball primarily, for an indefinite amount of time.

Sicard said the council is thrilled with the outcome of the interview process, and is pleased to be moving forward with a new town manager.

“We look forward to continuing our progressive rise into the future,” Sicard said.

Contact Jonathan Streetman at jstreetman@dcherald.com.




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