Genoans didn’t have to travel far to find their top choice for town manager. Centennial Drive resident Phil Ritger doesn’t live within the town boundaries, but he’s definitely the closest thing to it on the list of potential candidates.
Genoa Board members voted to offer Ritger the town manager’s job on Wednesday night after interviewing him, Carson City resident Molly Walt and Shirley Leschinsky of Quincy, Calif.
Ritger, a founding partner of Timber Edge Products and has operated the company that produces ecologically friendly wood stain for the past eight years, told board members that he would be able to devote his full attention to the town.
Walt is a former school teacher and served one term as a Carson City supervisor. Leschinsky has 30 years experience as a self-employed events coordinator with experience in grant compliance management and rental properties. She published the Rodeo News for a time.
Should Ritger turn down the position, board members agreed it should be offered to Walt.
Board member Nancy Aten said she leaned toward Ritger, who has lived in Genoa since 2006, because of his local connection, with Walt a close second.
When it came down to ranking the candidates, only board member Brian Williams felt Leschinsky was in the No. 1 spot, based on her experience with event coordination.
“I think there’s too much emphasis on being local,” he said.
Town Chairman Dave Whitgob said he could work with any of the three, but that he felt Ritger could do the best job of managing transition in Genoa.
“I like that Walt understands the process, but that’s understanding structure,” he said. “I think Phil is a bridgebuilder. He has a good, strong understanding of business.”
Board member Greg Pace said that he realized Ritger came from a background in a large organization, living in Southern California.
“But I can’t hold that against him,” he said, picking him as the top candidate. “We all came from somewhere larger.”
Board member Trent Tholen said Ritger volunteered to help the firefighters sell beer at Candy Dance.
“Molly had a very impressive resume and she was very impressive here at her interview,” he said. “Phil is very business-oriented. He’s a problem solver. I think he’s strong, but he’s also kind.”
Town Manager Sheryl Gonzales’ resignation in August prompted the search for a new manager. County Vitality Manager Lisa Granahan is filling in .
According to Transparent Nevada, Gonzales’ salary in 2012 was $51,328.48 a year.
The town board voted to offer Ritger the base salary of $42,600 with the possibility of negotiating up to 10 percent higher.
Gonzales had been town manager for more than five years, having been hired in February 2008.
She was a finalist for the job previously, and had served as Douglas County events coordinator for a year, so she’d managed Candy Dance 2007.
Gonzales is the town’s fifth town manager since it converted from having a town secretary. That includes Granahan, who managed the town under a contract with the county.
The town manager’s responsibilities include, among others, representing and promoting the town of Genoa and its events at meetings and through the media; reviewing and revising the policies and procedures manual annually in conjunction with the Town Advisory Board; overseeing all office functions; managing the renting and leasing of Genoa town property; and preparing and maintaining the town’s budget.
Ritger is a chemical engineer with a masters degree from Purdue University in Indiana, He worked for a Santa Ana, Calif., medical company from 1992 until 2002, when it merged with another firm. He stayed on for another three years before moving to Nevada in 2006.
Two of his daughters, Clara and Amelia, graduated from Douglas High School. Clara Ritger graduated from Notre Dame University and is currently working as a staff reporter for the National Journal in Washington, DC. Amelia is a junior at Dartmouth College.
Ritger is a referee for youth soccer and has worked Candy Dance, the town’s annual fundraiser, and events for the Genoa Volunteer Fire Department.