Hernando County shuffles top jobs around

An new administrator may be named soon.

By BARBARA BEHRENDT, Times Staff Writer
Published December 20, 2007

BROOKSVILLE -- As 2007 draws to a close, several changes are taking place with top Hernando County staff positions.

A new utilities director and a new fleet manager will soon begin work, an assistant utilities director has resigned, and a selection committee is whittling down a short list of county administrator candidates so the County Commission can pick a top executive in January.

Joseph L. Stapf, approved by commissioners earlier this month, will start as utilities director in mid January. He replaces Kay Adams who died in May after eight years in the job and a total of 28 years with the county.

Stapf has served as utilities director of Wyoming, Mich., for the past 17 years. In his application letter, he explained his interest in moving here because he had visited numerous times since his daughter and son-in-law live in the Tampa Bay area.

Employed by the city of Wyoming since 1978, Stapf previously worked as an assistant city engineer in Liberty, Mo., and as a civic engineer in the private sector.

He has a bachelor's in civic engineering from the University of Minnesota and a master's of public administration from Western Michigan University.

Jack Stepongzi has been chosen as the county's new fleet manager from an applicant pool of approximately 30, according to Barbara Dupre, director of human resources.

He replaces Terry Yeager, who served in the job for about six years. Yeager's tenure included a period of strong public criticism of his area of responsibility after an audit and a followup audit cited concerns about underutilized vehicles and problems with technology, documentation and accountability.

Given a choice of options by his supervisors, Yeager chose to resign effective the end of December.

Stepongzi has been fleet operations manager in Pinellas County since 2004. For 13 years he worked as supervisor of fleet services for Tampa Electric and he also has worked as a financial planner. He has studied computer information systems at St. Leo University and diesel and heavy equipment technology at Engine City Technical Institute.

The county also will see the departure of assistant utilities director David Horne, who has resigned for personal reasons. Horne has faced public criticism over the decision to more strictly enforce rules at the county's two garbage disposal convenience stations.

Earlier this week, interim county administrator Larry Jennings told commissioners that new information about what kinds of items can be accepted at the stations will be brought forward in early 2008.

The committee selected to narrow the field for the job of county administrator will gather Friday to discuss the short list of candidates and possibly discuss if any of the other applicants should be added. Several of the applicants will be interviewed by phone and one in person, Dupre said.

An earlier meeting slated for Wednesday was canceled due to a problem with advertising the session and because of a scheduling conflict.

The committee is expected to produce a short list of candidates before the County Commission is scheduled to conduct interviews Jan. 8.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Fast facts: Meeting open to the public