Former Clewiston Manager Top Candidate For LGWCD Post

The Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District supervisors narrowed their list of administrator candidates to three in a recent workshop and have initiated background checks on the preferred candidate, Steve A. McKown.

The list will be discussed and possibly shortened further at the supervisors’ next meeting Monday, Jan. 14, according to Supervisor John Ryan. A final selection could even be made at that time.

“Based on interviews, we came up with three candidates who we felt we seriously wanted to discuss salaries and other compensation factors with, and to be sure we had whatever legally advised releases were necessary to do detailed background checks and reference calls,” Ryan said. “We’re in the first choice process with Mr. McKown.”

McKown has a master’s degree in public administration and is a certified public accountant, with degrees from Valdosta State University in Georgia. He was most recently city manager in Clewiston from August 2009 to November 2012. Before that, he was assistant city manager in Commerce, Ga., from July 2005 to August 2009.

If selected, McKown would replace Clete Saunier, who led the LGWCD for 15 years before departing in November after being unable to come to terms with the board on a new contract.

Ryan told the Town-Crier this week that he had just talked to the legal firm conducting background checks and expected to hear soon about McKown, and from city officials and department directors in Clewiston.

“That’s a process that has been initiated through the law firm, and I want to stay somewhat on top of it because we should be having some report-back information for our January meeting,” Ryan said.

Ryan said no employment offer has been accepted or made at this point. “It couldn’t be accepted until we have our next meeting,” he said. “We want to find someone who is not only in our minds fully capable because of background and experience, but that has had acceptable working relationships with others.”

Ryan added that he was impressed by the list of people who applied for the position.

“I feel we were very fortunate to get the applicants that we did, and I felt that our interviews pretty much told us that four of the candidates were fully qualified within the parameters that we felt would work well with our district employees and the residents of Loxahatchee Groves,” he said.

Ryan said the administrator’s responsibility is being reduced, with the district turning over recently paved roads to the town. “We’re going to be turning over road responsibilities on a gradual basis,” he said. “I think both bodies clearly said they want to work together and do what’s best for the town and the district.”

Ryan added that he also hopes to get the necessary background information on the other two remaining candidates, W. Erik Olsen and Stephen E. Yohe, in case the process does not work out with McKown.

Supervisor Don Widing told the Town-Crier that he hopes to be in a position to make a job offer at the Jan. 14 meeting. “Right now, I have been working with the district’s attorney,” Widing said. “If Mr. McKown declines, we’ll go down that list.”