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DeLand, FL 32720
Lake Helen unanimous in hiring new top boss
posted Oct 15, 2012 - 9:09:48am
Vice Mayor Ann Robbins said the City Commission didn’t really choose Lake Helen’s new administrator; the residents did.
Robbins said she spent most of the week contacting Lake Helen residents to find out what they thought of the four top candidates, who had been interviewed publicly and also participated in a meet-and-greet at Hopkins Hall.
That individual is Kent A. Cichon of Gainesville.
With Commissioner Rick Basso absent, the three remaining Lake Helen city commissioners agreed with Robbins, and voted unanimously at their Oct. 11 meeting to offer the city-administrator job to Cichon (pronounced sish-ON) with a salary of $75,000 per year.
Current City Administrator Don Findell is retiring after 13 years of working for the city. His salary of $108,992 per year has been controversial in Lake Helen, but Findell has said his ability to handle the city’s planning and zoning as well as its administration was like getting two employees in one.
It is unknown whether or how the job might change under Cichon. However, Findell oversaw a major rewrite of Lake Helen’s comprehensive land-use plan, so that task is finished.
Findell is traveling back and forth between Lake Helen and his retirement home in Georgia, but will officially keep working until Jan. 23, to assist with the transition.
“I’m trying to make this as easy on the new administrator as I possibly can,” Findell said.
Cichon, who is originally from East Volusia, accepted the Lake Helen job shortly after the Oct. 11 City Commission meeting, and is scheduled to start work Nov. 12.
Lake Helen had 56 applicants. The other top candidates selected by commissioners during the monthslong selection process were Matthew Efird of Carrboro, N.C., Judith Jankosky of Lady Lake, and Scott Lippman of Williston.
Since 2009, Cichon has worked as a budget supervisor in the Alachua County Office of Management and Budget. Before that, he spent three years managing the City of Jasper.
He has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Central Florida and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Florida.
Commissioner Vernon Burton said he was impressed by Cichon’s plan for Lake Helen, and is looking forward to seeing what he will do for the city’s future.
“He has a strong interest in the community,” Mayor Buddy Snowden agreed.
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