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The Rock Region Metro Board of Directors voted Monday to interview four of the nine candidates a search firm had recommended to become the Pulaski County transit agency's next executive director.

The four finalists making the cut to replace Jarod Varner are:

• D. Eddy Cumins of Syracuse, Utah, regional general manager of the Utah Transit Authority and a retired U.S. Air Force non-commissioned officer whose responsibilities included managing a military fleet of 2,100 vehicles at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. His annual salary is $140,000.

• Charles Frazier of Lake Worth, Fla., assistant director and support services director for Palm Tran Inc., the county-operated transit system in Palm Beach County, Fla. He has an annual salary of $131,135.

• Sheila Haney of Lima, Ohio, executive director of the Allen County Regional Transit Authority. Her annual salary is $110,000.

• Abul Hassan of Eagle River, Alaska, director of the Anchorage Department of Transportation. He also has worked at transit agencies in Maryland. He declined to disclose his annual salary beyond saying it was six figures.

The unanimous board vote came after its members met in executive session for 50 minutes to discuss the nine semi-finalists recommended by the search firm Springsted/Waters Executive Recruitment of Dallas, which was retained under a $27,000 contract.

Among those not making the list to be interviewed were two candidates with Arkansas ties.

One was Steve Strauss of Washington, D.C., deputy associate director of the transit delivery division of the District of Columbia Department of Transportation. He is a Little Rock native and graduate of Hall High School with experience with New York City transit.

The other was Philip Pumphrey of Middletown, Conn., who is acting general manager for First Transit/Connecticut Transit. First Transit, a Cincinnati-based company that primarily contracts with municipalities to run their transit systems, runs Connecticut Transit for the Connecticut Department of Transportation. He was executive director at First Transit/Ozark Regional Transit in Northwest Arkansas from January 2002 to September 2012.

The board first took up a review of the candidate recommendations from Springsted/Waters at its March 26 board meetings, but board members decided to hold a special meeting Monday to give themselves more time to review the search firm's 128-page packet on the candidates.

The packet contained profiles of each of the nine candidates that included a cover letter, work experience, education and answers to questions posed to each of the candidates. The packet also included links to video statements from the candidates.

"The board has taken time since our last meeting to do a thorough review of all the nine offered candidates," board member Bentley Wallace of North Little Rock, the chairman of the board's personnel committee, said after the board emerged from its private deliberations. "It's clear by the comments and the conversation that people spent an awful lot of time digging into the information to help them make recommendations."

The board is trying to find someone to replace Varner, who left in August after four years to take a job as regional vice president at First Transit. He was drawing a $140,000 annual salary. His successor could draw up to $165,000 annually.

Board chairman Allie Freeman of Little Rock said the board would next coordinate with Springsted/Waters to find available dates to bring in the four candidates for interviews within the next two weeks and work with the search firm to develop ground rules for the interviews.

Metro on 04/10/2018

Print Headline: Transit agency picks 4 finalists for director's job

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