Johnstown Village Council will begin to interview finalists for the village manager position on Monday, Jan. 26.

Johnstown Village Council will begin to interview finalists for the village manager position on Monday, Jan. 26.

Mayor Kevin Riffe said council narrowed a field of 20 candidates down to five, with all finalists being well qualified for the job.

"They are all really good," Riffe said. "We wanted someone with experience."

The candidates are Nancy Benroth of Bluffton; Timothy Boland of Lewis Center; Mark Henne of Bluefield, W.Va.; Larry Jones of Pickerington; and Molly Roberts of Zanesville.

Benroth has worked as assistant village administrator of Bluffton since 1997. She has 23 years of experience in local government with 12 years in budgetary accounting and 11 years as assistant village administrator. She worked as budgetary/payroll/personnel clerk for the village of Ottawa from 1985 to 1997.

Boland has worked as the city administrator of Pataskala since 2007. He previously served as economic development director for Delaware County from 1999 to 2007. He also worked as planning and zoning administrator for the city of Perrysburg in northwest Ohio from 1992 to 1999.

Henne is the current city manager of Bluefield, W.Va., where he's responsible for the day-to-day operations of municipal government. Prior to the city manager position he began in 2003, he worked as town manager of Narrows, Va., for five years. Henne also worked as town manager of Rocky Mount, Va., from 1989 to 1997.

Jones has 20 years of experience in finance, marketing, sales and management. While finishing an MPA program at Ohio University, he worked the past six months as a volunteer intern with the city of Pickerington. Jones said that experience confirmed his commitment to city management as a second career. Prior to entering the MPA program, he worked 20 years in the private sector, including a position as director of sales and marketing for the Mead Corporation.

Roberts has worked for the village of Granville for more than 20 years in various positions. She's the current assistant village manager/finance director, a job that includes overseeing municipal finance, management, public service, utility operations and public relations for the village of Granville.

Former village manager Sarah Phillips left Johnstown in December to become the city manager of Rolling Meadows, Ill., a community of about 25,000 people.

Phillips has 18 years of professional local government executive experience. Before her appointment in 2003 as village manager of Johnstown, she served as the public works director in Paducah, Ky.

Riffe said council discussed each candidate at length, and used a scoring system to rate their qualifications.

"Adam (Roberts) and Carol (Van Deest) did an Internet study," he added. "Several times, we changed our opinion."

Interviews are scheduled for Jan. 26 and 27, Feb. 2, 4 and 12.

In addition to interviews with council members, candidates will meet with finance director Sandra Berry, zoning inspector Dan Glaze, service director Randy Ashbrook, utilities director Jack Liggett, police chief Don Corbin, tax commissioner Karen Wilson, recreation director Jean Moyer and council clerk Gina Hunt.

Doug Plunkett, of Granville's Circuit Rider Management Group, led the search to find a new village manager. His search firm is the same one that brought Phillips to Johnstown about six years ago.

He noted that the five candidates who are being interviewed are just the "initial" finalists, and other prospects could be considered before a final decision is made.

"It could still change," he said.

There were about 50 applicants who applied for the position. Plunkett said the pool of candidates include 14 current or former Ohio city/village managers or administrators; 10 current/former managers in other states.