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Polson confirms interim city manager, still needs attorney

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Flathead Lake, with the city of Polson in the foreground.

POLSON — This city's commission has confirmed Chief of Police Wade Nash as interim city manager.

Last month's departure of City Manager Mark Shrives and City Attorney Rich Gebhardt pulled two vital links in Polson's chain of command. While Mayor Paul Briney had asked Nash to hold things down in the city manager's office, Nash expressed deep qualms about filling that role without commission approval.

The absence of an official city manager also left Polson unable to hire staff, and without legal guidance for matters such as Shrives' severance pay.

At a special meeting Tuesday night, Briney and the four city commissioners present — Graydon Moll, Jan Howlett, Stephen Turner and Ian Donovan — sought to stabilize the situation by appointing Nash as interim city manager.

"I'm glad that he's able and willing to step into that position," said local swim coach Mark Johnston, who's heavily involved in local government. Nash has previously filled in for the city manager for short periods, and the commissioners and several residents voiced confidence in his leadership at the last commission meeting.

The process of locating and hiring a new full-time manager will likely take several months. Nash is expected to serve as both chief of police and city manager in that time.

While Nash now has the City Commission's official backing, he's out of town on a hunting trip this week. Upon his return, the mayor and commission will look to him to appoint a new city attorney. "He already has a couple names on his desk," Briney said. "He will bring them to us, hopefully at our next meeting … and we will take action on that."

During the public comments session, resident Margie Hendricks voiced concern that Nash had recently been suspended from his job. Briney confirmed that the police chief had been suspended, but ultimately cleared of wrongdoing. He did not provide any specifics on when the suspension had taken place or the details of the matter, saying it had been handled by the city manager.

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