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Stark County HR director position offered to Montana native

Stark County Commissioners completed the long and arduous process of hiring a full-time Human Resources director, a position aimed at tackling a growing responsibility while dealing with personnel issues that have troubled the county in the previous year.

Stark County Courthouse (1).jpg
Stark County Courthouse. (File photo)

Stark County Commissioners in a special session on Wednesday, Jan. 7, finalized the months long hiring process for a newly created position of human resources director, in what commissioners are calling one of the most competitive hiring processes in years.

The new human resources manager will assume full-time duties, something previously handled by the Stark County State’s Attorney Office, in an effort to have a dedicated department able to meet the growing needs of the county's employees and staff.

A letter offering the position was forwarded to Joetta Pearcy, of Glendive, MT, who the current director of human resources at the Glendive Medical Center and who is expected to accept the position in the coming days, according to Commissioner Neil Messer.

Pearcy will begin her duties with a tentative effective starting date of Jan. 27, and her office will be located in the county courthouse building at 51 3rd St E, in Dickinson.

“We’re targeting January 27 as her start date, but there is some give and take on that for the simple reason that her transition out of her current position must be completed,” Messer said. “This process started before I was a commissioner and we ended the application process in November. In total we received 21 applications and it was highly competitive.”

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In previous commission meetings, the decision was unanimously made to have the hiring process handled in three stages. The three pronged approach would consist of a scoring committee, an interview committee and the final hiring committee being the full county commission in session.

The preliminary stage began shortly after the application deadline in late November. This process consisted of the scoring committee ranking each of the 21 individual applicants on experience, education, qualifications and ability, among other criteria. The preliminary committee then forwarded the top seven applicants by score to the interviewing committee who conducted a complete interview with each.

The interviewing committee forwarded the top three candidates identified as the best applicants to the full commission, who on Wednesday narrowed the pool of candidates and offered the top candidate the position.

The three finalists were Leslie Ross, Donna Giese and Joetta Pearcy.

"They were the most qualified applicants and had the best overall interviews," Messer said.

A graduate of the University of Jamestown with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Pearcy stood out during the interviewing process through what commissioners said was a thorough knowledge of current human resources practices and responses that indicated she was a capable problem-solver with respect to both the county and its employees.

“I think it was critical to finally have someone dedicated full-time to the HR department, and the demands on that position over the years has dramatically increased and it was critical that we fill that position on a full-time basis rather than try to do it part-time as it was previously,” Messer said. “Joetta stood out because of her dedication to her current position, her experiences with hundreds of employees — I believe she is the HR person for over 400 employees — and just her willingness and excitement to start from scratch and get the position up and running, because she’s done it before. Her ability to step right in was critical for us.”

According to the Stark County records, Pearcy’s annual salary will be $76,000.

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“We feel that the finalists were all very qualified and we were pleased all the way through with the seven we picked for interviews and the way the process went. We really thought we had seven great individuals,” Messer said. "Percy is poised to step in and get this up and running quickly."

James B. Miller, Jr. is the Editor of The Dickinson Press in Dickinson, North Dakota. He strives to bring community-driven, professional and hyper-local focused news coverage of southwest North Dakota.
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