SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — New South Kingstown Town Manager James Manni has hit the ground running in his first week, and gave the Town Council an update Monday on efforts to fill key open positions in four town departments.
Manni, most recently superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and a town manager in Narragansett before that, was sworn in on May 2 and gave the first of what he said would be regular updates to the council on town matters.
“Last week was a blur,” Manni said, before outlining meetings with “just about every employee in town.”
Manni, who is also a local resident of 22 years, called the employees “a breath of fresh air” and said he’s impressed with the quality of the town’s workforce.
Among those Manni met with is the town’s new Superintendent of Schools, Mark Prince.
“That was one of the first orders of business,” Manni said, and pledged to meet with him every two weeks to discuss both town and school objectives.
“I committed to him that the town will work with him to help him succeed and our school system to succeed, and I’m expecting big things from the relationship we will have,” Manni said.
The new manager also has his hands full with the search for a new chief of police. The town has received 12 applications for the position. Joel Ewing-Chow was the most recent chief before his retirement.
“That closed on Friday and we’ll start the interviews next week,” Manni said. Five of the 12 applicants will be interviewed, he said.
The position of director of the town’s finance department also is open, and the deadline to receive applications was also May 6. The town got 15 applications, Manni said.
“We will schedule those interviews within the next couple of weeks,” he said.
A tough position the town will need to fill is the tax assessor.
“It’s tough just because of the structure of the job. We have one applicant, it closes on the 13th of May, but there are also two more expected to apply in that time frame,” Manni said.
Finally, the director of public services position, most recently held by Jon Schock, will close to applications on May 27.
“We just posted that, so don’t have any applicants yet, but it’s a good, high-level job that I expect we’ll get some very good applicants to fill that,” Manni said. The position is in charge of the town’s public works.
The Town Council gave Manni a warm welcome at his first meeting as an employee.
“This is a huge step forward for the town,” President Rory McEntee said. “We are hopeful and expect a lot from you Jim as we continue to work through the challenges that are unique in this town.”