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Lewis County manager plans early May retirement

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LOWVILLE — Lewis County’s manager has announced plans to retire in early May after six years on the job.

“I have completely enjoyed my six years in service to Lewis County,” said David H. Pendergast, Watson, who was chosen by legislators in March 2008 from a field of 47 applicants. “After 34 years of governmental service, I look forward to spending time with my family, especially my grandchildren.”

Mr. Pendergast, who will turn 63 in April, said he also is looking forward to increased fishing time this summer.

“I’ve got to get the boat out and get it tuned up,” he said.

Mr. Pendergast said he still needs to check with state retirement system officials before setting a specific retirement date.

However, the county manager, whose current two-year term runs through the end of this year, said the several-month notice of his retirement should give legislators ample time to search for a successor to the $84,000-per-year post.

Mr. Pendergast said he would be willing to come back to help with the transition, if needed.

“Hopefully, they’ll be able to find somebody who has had governmental experience,” he said.

Mr. Pendergast effectively replaced former County Manager Joseph L. Baruth Sr., whose contract was not renewed by legislators in January 2008 after three years on the job.

Then-Legislature Chairman Jack T. Bush, R-Brantingham, had to serve as acting manager for the first few months of 2008 until a new county manager was hired.

With his extensive experience in government, Mr. Pendergast “didn’t have to have a long learning curve,” Mr. Bush said. “He knew what was going on.”

“He did his best to keep us informed on what’s going on and give each committee a bigger role in conducting business,” added current board Chairman Michael A. Tabolt, R-Croghan.

Both Mr. Bush and Mr. Tabolt commended Mr. Pendergast for extensive work on preparing annual budgets in the midst of tightening fiscal constraints and relatively new state tax cap limitations.

“It’s a very, very difficult task,” Mr. Bush said.

“He’s held the line for us quite well, providing us with an acceptable budget,” Mr. Tabolt said.

The chairman said he hopes to soon advertise for someone to replace Mr. Pendergast — and help plan for the 2014 county budget — once lawmakers discuss a salary range and review the job description.

“I think it was great of Dave to offer to help in the transition,” Mr. Tabolt said.

Mr. Pendergast, who announced his impending retirement to county department heads at a meeting Friday afternoon, said he was happy to be able to finish his career here.

“I want to thank the Board of Legislators and the county employees I have had the pleasure to have worked with during this time,” he said. “Everyone has been very helpful in reaching the goal of service to people of Lewis County.”

While spending much of his life in Schoharie County, Mr. Pendergast had strong ties to Lewis County, having spent much time over the years hunting and fishing in the Brantingham and Belfort areas. His maternal grandfather, the late Albert Schoff, was Lewis County’s sheriff for 29 years, while his uncle, the late Loren A. Schoff, was county probation director for 22 years.

Mr. Pendergast over the years has worked at the town, county, state and federal levels of government.

He came here after about spending about a decade in Oneida County government, the last four years supervising that county’s airport at the former Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome as deputy commissioner of aviation.

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