GROTTOES — Stefanie McAlister, a native of Augusta County and former Rockingham County employee, has been hired by the town of Grottoes to serve as its newest town manager following a special meeting Monday.

McAlister’s appointment was approved in a 5-0 vote, with Mayor Jo Plaster and council member C.W. Stephenson absent.

McAlister will assume the position on May 10. Her annual salary will be $95,000.

The decision comes after two closed sessions held last week to discuss the open position. On April 13, Interim Town Manager Joe Paxton said council was “still in negotiations” with three prospects, and a decision could be made in the next week or two.

A representative of The Berkley Group spoke to council Monday and said the firm received 32 applications for the position after conducting a national search.

Nine candidates were interviewed by The Berkley Group. Prospects were narrowed down to five candidates, who were interviewed by council.

McAlister was selected as the finalist, and her employment agreement was approved Monday. She will replace Paxton, who started the position on Nov. 30 and replaced Nathan Garrison. Garrison assumed the town manager position in June 2018 and resigned on Oct. 14 to accept a position at the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission, according to former Mayor Emily Holloway.

Paxton, a consultant with The Berkley Group, had a contract with the town and The Berkley Group that initially allowed him to stay as interim town manager until last Thursday.

As council continued to deliberate, Paxton said on April 13 his contract was extended through the end of May.

The former Rockingham County administrator will continue to serve the town on a part-time basis until McAlister’s start date.

McAlister, who is living in Richmond and will relocate to the area in May, said she is looking forward to working with the town.

“I think we got a great opportunity here,” she said.

McAlister graduated from James Madison University and worked as a planner for Rockingham County from 1995 to 2009. She most recently served in the Virginia Department of Emergency Management as an operations manager of the 911 and Geospatial Services Bureau and was director of its regional outreach division from 2018 to present.

Plaster said in a press release she was delighted to welcome McAlister to the Grottoes community and looked forward to working with her.

“The town is fortunate to have Ms. McAlister join the town, as she has experienced success at both the state and local government level,” she said. “During the interview process, we were impressed with her ability to relate to council and with town employees. Her experience and knowledge of the local area, both as a native of the area and from her time at Rockingham County, makes her an excellent fit for our community.”

Contact Jessica Wetzler at 574-6279 or Follow Jessica on Twitter @wetzler_jessica

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