TALENT — The City Council on Sunday directed current City Manager Betty Wheeler to enter negotiations with one of three finalists to fill her position.

TALENT — The City Council on Sunday directed current City Manager Betty Wheeler to enter negotiations with one of three finalists to fill her position.

Mayor Don Steyskal and council members declined to name the selected finalist, whom they choose in an executive session.

Finalists are Jay Henry, city manager of Polson, Mont.; Dale Shaddox, former Phoenix city manager; and Joe Schweinhart of Salem. Wheeler announced her retirement earlier this year.

Henry was previously community development director for Klamath County, and he also has been parks and solid waster director for Klamath County. He has served in Polson since July 2007. He has a master's degree in business administration from Marylhurst University south of Portland.

Shaddox served in Phoenix from November 2006 to June 2007. He resigned after Phoenix citizens voiced unhappiness over a proposed surcharge and conceded he was surprised by the difficulties he encountered. He had previously worked as city manger for Brookings and Chico, Calif.

Schweinhart has been intergovernmental relations and franchise administrator for the city of Salem. He also has worked for the League of Oregon Cities and was a fiscal policy analyst for Associated Oregon Industries.

Candidates were in town from Saturday morning through mid-afternoon Sunday to meet the council and the community and for interviews and tours of municipal departments.

On Saturday afternoon, department heads from police, public works, finance and planning interviewed the finalists. They attended the citywide picnic Saturday evening at Chuck Roberts Park.

Area municipal professionals interviewed the candidates on Sunday morning. Interviewers included Martha Bennett, city of Ashland administrator; JoAnn Stumpf, retried Grants Pass finance director; Joe Strahl of Public Works Management, Inc.; and Tom Humphrey, Central Point community development director. Council members conducted interviews Sunday afternoon and sat in on other interview sessions.

"It was a good process," Steyskal said.

"It was a long process," noted Councilman Bill Cecil.

Caldron & Company, a recruiting firm from Lake Oswego, was hired to conduct the initial recruiting round. The field was reduced to 10 candidates, then six, then the final three.

Wheeler plans to move to Arizona, but will serve until her retirement begins Aug. 1. She indicated she night be able to serve on a contract basis after that date if she is still in the area and a new manager had not assumed the duties.

Salary range for the manger post in the 2008-09 budget is $75,000 to $95,000.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboom8929@charter.net.