The City of Gering began three weeks of interviews Wednesday with the four finalists for the City Administrator position. The current City Administrator, Lane Danielzuk is retiring after 12 years.
In the running is former Alliance city manager Pamela “Pam” Caskie, based in Sevierville, Tenn.; two current Gering city employees: human resource director Tammy Cooley and Pat Heath, director of public works; and veteran Dustin Stambaugh, based in Littleton, Colo.
Mayor Tony Kaufman said the city is currently dealing with budget compression due to COVID-19 and there is work needed on infrastructure. He said there was nothing specific the city is looking for in its candidates.
“We’re looking for the best person, simple as that,” he said.
Cooley and Heath have solid records in their current positions, according to Kaufman.
“Both have been fantastic in their respective departments, and either is an excellent candidate,” Kaufman said.
In interviews, Cooley and Heath did not answer questions regarding why they are running for the position, what they see as challenges in Gering and what experience they bring, both saying they would like to save their answers for the interviews. Interviews are scheduled for July 8, 16, 20 and 22 with council members and the mayor.
Caskie has worked in Tennessee for six years as a development director for a tourism town, and later in her tourism and economic development consulting firm. She said she’s been waiting for a job to open up in the Panhandle for years to move back and be closer to her daughter and grandchildren. She was city manager in Alliance from 2005 until 2010.
Caskie said most of the work at her firm Bryte Idea was derailed by the coronavirus pandemic and she would like to step back into administration to support Gering’s tourism and economic development.
“I think my expertise in tourism and 30 years in municipal administration means I could bring a lot,” she said.
In early June, Caskie was a finalist for the City of Sidney City Manager position, but Sidney city officials selected David Scott as the new manager.
Cooley, the human resources director at the City of Gering since 2015 was reached by phone Monday, but declined to answer questions about applying for city administrator.
“I’d hate to put myself into a corner or say something I’m not supposed to, so at this time I’m going to decline comment,” Cooley said.
Cooely did not provide any references to the Star-Herald, saying “I want to see how the interview shakes out.”
Cooley has more than 24 years of experience in municipal government, much of that as the Village Clerk-Treasurer at the Village of Morrill.
In her resume, Cooley said she managed more than 50 employees and listed accomplishments such as implementing a city sales tax, development of a regional water system and developing open spaces.
In an interview last Thursday, Pat Heath declined to answer questions about applying for the position, saying “I’m trying to save what I can for the interview.”
Heath has 36 years of municipal government work under his belt with 7 years in North Platte and 29 years in Gering. As the head of Public Works, Heath said in his resume, he’s working to coordinate with federal and state agencies, manages the budget, briefs officials on plans and directly oversees training and directing staff.
Heath said he would forward references in an interview with the Star-Herald, but did not respond to follow-up emails.
In an interview Monday, Stambaugh said he is looking for a place to settle after being uprooted from his job calibrating equipment for NovaStar Solutions in Livonia, Mich. Stambaugh is now living near his parents in Littleton, Colo., with his wife and son.
“With tourism as a major attribute, I see a lot of potential in Gering, but it’s also a great place to raise a family,” Stambaugh said.
Stambaugh joined the Army in 2007, and exited to take care of his son in 2017 after his first wife’s death two years earlier. According to his resume, Stambaugh was a shop foreman at Camp Casey in South Korea. He served as team chief in Fort Riley, Kan., overseeing eight people and $5 million dollars of calibration standards and equipment.
“Collaboration, trust building were vital to my mission,” he said.