After a year of unexpected transition, Violet Township officials said they hope to have a new top administrator in place within the first month of 2020.

Just 49 days after Violet Township officials opened their new headquarters in the Wigwam, 10190 Blacklick Eastern Road, township director of operations John Eisel died July 5 at the age of 55. Eisel was vacationing with his family at Lake Cumberland, Kentucky.

Former township engineer Greg Butcher was named interim director of operations before being hired as Pickerington city manager Aug. 23. He took the reins in Pickerington on Sept. 30.

Since Sept. 4, Violet Township fire Chief Mike Little has served as interim director of township operations.

Now, Little and the three township trustees are reviewing candidates for the director of operations position, which is being renamed township administrator. The position won't see a change of duties, but the new name reflects the fact the township's fire chief now reports to the trustees and not the director of operations, according to board of trustees chairman Darrin Monhollen.

"We have a dozen candidates," Little said. "Eight or nine of those, we're going to bring in for kind of a first-round session (of interviews).

"The hope is that we'll have somebody in place by the first or the middle of January. That's what we're shooting for."

Those in the running for the post are:

* William Butterfield, city of Garfield Justice Center, building manager.

* Jillian Boone, Fairfield County Common Pleas Court, court administrator and magistrate.

* Patrick Brobeck, Ohio Attorney General's Office, deputy director of quality assurance and process improvement.

* John Carlisle, Etna Township, administrator.

* Richard Giroux, Sebring, city manager.

* Orvell Johns, Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Division of Domestic Relations and Juvenile Branch, court director/executive director.

* Holly Mattei, Violet Township, development director.

* Deborah McDonnell, Allegany County, New York, county administrator.

* Melissa Messina-Lanthorn, Franklin County Recorder's Office, chief of staff.

* Donald S. Rector, Fairfield County Utilities Department, deputy director.

* John Schlichter, Ohio Department of Agriculture, deputy director.

* Tony Vogel, Fairfield County Utilities Department, director.

The deadline for submission of applications was Oct. 18.

Little will work with the three trustees to screen the administrator candidates. The trustees will make the hire.

In the meantime, Little will serve as both the township's fire chief and interim director of operations.

"Mike Little has lived in the Pickerington area for 28 years and has been employed by Violet Township for 26 years in the fire service," Monhollen said.

"As chief, Mr. Little has successfully led the township's largest department, and through his tenure has naturally developed an understanding of the needs and expectations of our other departments.

"Mike is very logical, possesses excellent organizational skills and is extremely fiscally responsible. During his interim period, I am confident that Mike has and will continue to identify and address challenges, formulate strategies and make recommendations for best practices moving forward."

Little said he did not seek the full-time administrator's position and isn't a candidate for the post. But, he said, he'll serve the dual role until the township finds a successor.

"I am happy to help the township any way I can during the search for a new township administrator," Little said.

"I look forward to working with the trustees to find and hire the right person to serve the township staff and the community."