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Richards bid for job divides board

Pahrump town board members took the first step in finding a suitable replacement for Town Manager Bill Kohbarger when he vacates his position next month.

Last night the board’s first major piece of business focused on board member Amy Riches’ request to have former Town Manager Dave Richards serve as interim town manager following Kohbarger’s final day on July 12.

Richards was hired in 2004 and served for more than four years before resigning in 2008.

Last week Richards contacted Riches about his interest in the position.

On Monday, Riches said the former town manager was the most obvious person to assume Kohbarger’s role.

“He was the previous town manager and he knows all of the staff and the staff knows him. He knows about the fall festival and can just step right in and make it a smooth transition. He is the perfect person for the job and he has all of the qualifications necessary. Everybody that I have spoken to in the public sector would like to see Dave Richards have the job. They are very supportive of Dave because he has been there and done that,” Riches maintained.

Richards himself said this week he is pleased with the level of support coming from residents that he has spoken to after making his announcement last week.

“It is very encouraging to hear people’s comments supporting my application. I know that there are some people who do not support me and that’s normal. No one can please everyone all of the time and given what I have heard and the reaction that I have had from the public I’m very encouraged. It doesn’t necessarily translate to support from the town board, but it’s good to know that the community is supportive,” he said.

Richards was correct in his assessment of immediate support from some town board members.

Dr. Tom Waters on Monday was quick to say that the board should look at and discuss every available option in terms of naming a successor to Kohbarger.

“It is only appropriate and fair that we as a town board give others the opportunity to present that. To not give them the opportunity, I think would be premature. On my email, there are several people that told me that they would like to be considered for the job and not to consider them would also be unfair,” he said.

The form email Waters was referring to urged recipients to support Richards in his bid to assume the interim town manager’s job.

In part, the email read, “Dave Richards is one of the most effective, well liked and least controversial managers the Town of Pahrump has ever had. Bill Kohbarger was brought in to move the Town of Pahrump into becoming the City of Pahrump (by his own admission at a Rotary function). Kohbarger not only failed to do this, he was also very instrumental in convincing the townsfolk of Pahrump to vote the town board form of government out and return authority to the county commission. Now Kohbarger has decided to cut and run leaving the operation of the town and the inevitable transition of the town high and dry. Pahrump needs a proven leader at the helm of the town management at this critical juncture and Dave Richards is the man for the job.”

The email went on to say, “In order for the Pahrump Town Board to approve the hiring of Dave Richards as the interim town manager we need your support in emailing and calling the members of the town board to encourage them to approve Amy Riches’ agenda item #11 to hire Dave Richards. It is imperative that the citizens and management of Pahrump be in the hands of an experienced professional who knows the community, has a working relationship with the county commissioners and has the ability to manage the operation of the town and work effectively through management transition to the county. As Dave Richards is the most recent Pahrump town manager and is a business-minded, experienced manager with strong ties to the citizens and community he is quite obviously the best person for this position. Thank you for your consideration of support for agenda item #11 and I look forward to your support at the time of vote this Tuesday evening,” the email read.

Closer inspection of the email revealed it was being sent by County Commissioner Donna Cox and Kenny Bent, both vocal opponents of Kohbarger.

Waters, meanwhile, said he was concerned that Richards’ qualifications listed within the email appeared to be vague on specifics.

“On the ones that said he would be a great town manager I asked them for specifics but nobody could give me specifics. Maybe they didn’t want to, I can’t say but the endorsements were certainly there. I told one gentleman that I received many emails that did not support Mr. Richards and I have to consider them as well. I’m looking at both sides of the issue right now,” he said.

Board Vice Chair Bill Dolan said he has very strong reservations about Richards’ goal to reassume his old position in light of an incident that occurred during a town board meeting last June when members of the Nye County Republican Central Committee (NCRCC) sought to perform a citizen’s arrest on town board members who voted to repeal an ordinance passed in 2005 involving incorporation.

Richards stood along with NCRCC members when the attempted “takedown” occurred.

The effort was an abysmal failure, that attracted embarrassing regional and national media attention.

“At the time, I was in Italy on my honeymoon. They did what they thought was appropriate. I personally thought it was not appropriate,” he said.

Richards said he understood there were probably fences that needed mending over that ordeal.

“Mr. Dolan was not on that town board when that happened so he was not directly affected as a member of the town board. It’s easy to disrespect the fact that the action was taken. The community and Mr. Dolan ought to respect the fact that that was an action taken by the Nye County Republican Central Committee. It wasn’t some wild harebrained group of radicals and I’m not embarrassed to be a part of the NCRCC and the actions they take. I understand that I have bridges to mend with those town board members who were there. I know that I’m a qualified candidate for the interim position because of my previous experience in Pahrump,” he said.

In other town business, board members discussed retaining outgoing Town Manager Bill Kohbarger for the Pahrump Airport project as well as creating a new policy pertaining to the town pool on unforeseen closures.

Due to time constraints, results on the board’s action agenda items will appear in Friday’s edition of the Pahrump Valley Times.

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