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story.lead_photo.caption Ward 2 Director Laney Harris, from left, Ward 1 Director Terry Roberts, City Attorney George Matteson, Mayor Allen Brown, Ward 4 Director Ulysses Brewer and Ward 5 Director Barbara Miner prepare for a meeting of the city Board of Directors on Thursday in Texarkana, Ark. The Board voted unanimously to retain a local firm to recruit candidates for city manager.

TEXARKANA, Ark. — The city Board of Directors on Thursday voted unanimously to retain a local company to handle recruitment of candidates for city manager.

Express Employment Professionals will not be involved in selecting candidates to advance in the hiring process, which is the sole responsibility of the Board. It will advertise the position and determine whether applicants meet the basic qualifications for the job according to criteria — such as minimum experience and education — provided by the city personnel department.

Express will not charge the city any fees for its services but asked for $968 to pay for advertising on a long list of employment recruitment websites, including some that specialize in city management and other municipal government positions. The Board authorized up to $1,000 to be spent for that purpose.

Local Express franchise owner Joey Martin told the Board he has been a Texarkana, Arkansas, resident for more than 30 years and it would be "an honor and a privilege" to help.

The company will also correspond with qualified applicants selected by the Board through the initial stages of the process, sending them written questions from the Board and gathering their responses. At the interview stage, Express will help coordinate any candidates' travel necessary.

The city will write the ad right away, and Martin said Express can post it within four hours of receiving it.

"This is an opportunity to not only use a Texarkana, Arkansas, business that's rooted in our community, that knows our people better, it's also a chance to save quite a bit of money than hiring some bigtime search firm," Mayor Allen Brown said.

Board member Jeff Hart said he had worked with Express in the past and called the company "top notch."

Former City Manager Kenny Haskin resigned unexpectedly last week during a surprise meeting of the city Board of Directors, which met with him behind closed doors for almost an hour before voting four to three to accept his resignation and appoint longtime city resident, business owner and former state representative David Haak as interim city manager.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you for what you've just done," Haak told the Board after Thursday's vote, then turned to Martin to joke, "Can you find somebody tomorrow?"

"I am a novice. You need a professional," he said to the Board.

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