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Interim Leaders Ready To Continue Service
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Though the word 'interim' is still in front of their titles, Escalon Police Chief Jim Shaw and City Manager Henry Hesling have seen council members approve contract extensions that will carry them through the new fiscal year, July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011.

It's actually the positions that have been approved to continue in the interim arrangement, but both Shaw and Hesling said they are satisfied with the arrangement and currently plan on staying with the city.

"This is an opportunity that very few guys in my position ever have to look at," Shaw said of enjoying the work. "This is a great community, a good department and there are highly qualified people working here. The environment is good and the building is top notch."

As he looks to lead the department for the next year, Shaw said the focus will be simple.

"How to get sufficient coverage with limited resources," he said.

Simple, perhaps, but not easy.

Still, Shaw said the department members are committed to giving the community a high level of service.

"We'll be getting some equipment that will help at the street level," he said.

Connecting with a larger network, such as the recent agreement to join up with the Crime Stoppers, should also reap some benefits.

"We just put our first entry in there," Shaw said of Crime Stoppers.

The department is looking for fugitive Kelly Mohl, wanted on a $100,000 warrant in connection with the theft of a truck and trailer, and the information will be posted on Fox 40's 'Most Wanted' segment and also through the Crime Stoppers media network.

In terms of personnel, Shaw said the department is "operating with a small contingent" that is buoyed by the ranks of those in the reserve, volunteers and Explorer groups, in addition to several volunteers at the city's animal shelter.

The reserve officers provide a combination of paid and unpaid hours, able to fill in on shifts or handle extra duties.

"They pitch in and support the city, give freely of their time and labor, plus they do some paid work as well," said Shaw.

The senior volunteer program and the cadet program for teens also continue to provide valuable manpower.

"Everybody's on board," Shaw said of working together. "And I'm learning as I go."

Shaw said his management style is very similar to that of former chief Doug Dunford, so the department hasn't really missed a beat.

"We're not going to make any abrupt change," Shaw added. "We will do some minor tinkering, but nothing that's going to substantially affect the operation of the department.

For his part, Hesling said his main focus will be on developing and implementing a financial strategy for the city, to set up a clear game plan for getting through the tough fiscal years ahead.

His goal is to have the strategy in place within the next four months, and he also hopes to find ways to operate more efficiently. By not funding the city's top two posts - City Manager and Police Chief - as full time city employees, the city is saving on retirement and benefits this year. That allows them to do the contract hiring of Shaw and Hesling as interims, getting the service for less cost. Neither is considered full-time, but have worked out schedules that have them in the city several days a week.

A further reduction in costs will be realized with the one day a month closure - the third Friday - of city offices for a furlough day starting in July.