By Louis Wyatt
HUNTERTOWN — Huntertown’s long-time search for a town manager came to an end during Monday’s meeting of the Town Council. Former Albion town manager Beth Shellman will join Huntertown’s staff beginning May 7.
Town attorney Dave Hawk notified Shellman of the offer last week, and council member Mike Aker made a recommendation Monday, on behalf of the personnel committee, that the council vote in favor of the hire. During the council’s previous meeting, the hiring committee announced it had narrowed the decision down to Shellman and current Churubusco Clerk-Treasurer Madalyn Sade-Bartl. The council voted unanimously to hire Shellman Monday night.
“I’ve been interested in this position as town manager for four years. When the discussion first came up, I was interested because I have an attraction to the town based on my heritage,” Shellman said, adding that she spent a lot of time in Huntertown as a child, as her grandparents lived on Shoaff Road and both her parents graduated from Huntertown High School in the 1950s. Her other grandparents lived in the White Swan area.
“I spent a lot of time in this area as a child,” Shellman wrote in a letter to the Northwest News. “I have watched Huntertown grow over the past several decades and currently have friends and relatives who live in Huntertown. I am excited to be a part of the continual growth by utilizing my skills to assist the Town Council/Utility Service Board and employees in working with developers, business, industry and residents.”
Shellman attended junior high in Churubusco before graduating from Central Noble High School. She served as Noble County’s plan director from 1987-2003 before becoming the town manager of Albion — a position she held from 2003 until January 2016, when Albion’s town council decided to terminate its contract with her.
Then Albion Town Council President John Morr was quoted in a Jan. 12, 2016 article in the Albion New Era as stating “We’re not on the same page,” in reference to the council’s relationship with Shellman.
“Either we change, or the person in charge has to change. It was a hard decision. Beth, in many ways, is an asset to the community. She has been important to Albion,” he continued.
Asked about her relationship with the former employer, Shellman told the Northwest News she had foreseen herself leaving Albion years in advance.
“I was working with a council that had a different management style than I did and I needed to leave,” she said. “I knew that about three years before I left.”
Through meeting with town officials, Shellman believes Huntertown will be a better fit.
“I’ve had four interviews, basically, for this position, so I’ve had an opportunity to meet with all the council members and all the [Utility Service Board] members and I look forward to working with them,” she said.
Shellman will leave her current position as an office manager in Whitley County. As town manager of Huntertown, she will be working in Allen County for the first time. Her current position is the first she has held outside of Noble County.
“I miss being a town manager, and I did it for a little over 12 years in Albion,” she said. “A lot of the things that I have been talking with the council about initiating are things that I’ve done in Albion.”
Her resume from Albion includes creating a 50-50 façade grant program for commercial properties; reconstruction of a four-block area around the courthouse square; bond refinancing, expansion and creation of a new tax increment financing area; upgrading water and wastewater facilities; constructing a new water tower and water main; constructing and upgrading tornado sirens; complete street and regulatory sign replacement; consolidating all town services into one facility and constructing a new salt shed; and annexation of property into corporate limits, among other accomplishments.
As Noble County plan director, Shellman implemented the county’s house numbering/address system and updated the zoning and subdivision ordinances and comprehensive plan.
Many of those experiences will inform her business in Huntertown — with the help of the council.
“I’m not going to come in here thinking everything is going to change for the town on May 7,” she said. “It’s going to take some priorities and I want the council to direct me on which direction they want me to go first.”