NORTH PORT – North Port will only have two candidates to fill its vacant city manager job, after Caryn Gardner-Young dropped out of contention because she took another job closer to her current home on Florida’s east coast. 

City Commissioner Debbie McDowell announced the development on her city Facebook page late Friday afternoon. 

The decision means that two candidates, Alfred (Jerome) Fletcher, assistant chief administrative officer for Montgomery County, Maryland, and Matthew LeCerf, town manager for Johnstown, Colorado, remain in contention. 

Last week:North Port narrows city manager list to three finalists

And in June:North Port commission winnows city manager candidate pool down to 11 semifinalists

Gardner-Young, a planning supervisor at the Florida Department of Transportation District 4 office, said Monday that she is not yet revealing what position she accepted. 

Doug Thomas, a senior vice president with SGR, the Texas-based firm that has handled the nationwide search for a new city manager, said in an email to the city that Gardner-Young chose the other position in part because she would not have to relocate. 

Gardner-Young’s husband is disabled and her aging parents also live with her, “and the other opportunity eliminated the potential need to find new doctors for her husband and parents,” Thomas wrote. 

The next step in the hiring process includes city commissioners finalizing the next batch of questions for Fletcher and LeCerf by Friday, so they can be included in a briefing book for the two remaining candidates. 

They are scheduled to travel to North Port Aug. 8 and will tour the city and meet with city officials and commissioners Aug. 9 and 10. 

A meet-and-greet with residents will be scheduled as part of the Aug. 9 session, while a public meeting is scheduled for Aug. 10. The start time for that is listed as 9 p.m. on the city web site but since the board is now choosing from two candidates, that may change. 

Fletcher and Gardner-Young had both scored well with the five commissioners when they discussed the candidates at a public meeting July 19 and used a system similar to golf scoring, in which low tallies were best. 

Fletcher received a 7 and Gardner-Young an 8, while LeCerf received a 10. 

Fletcher is the assistant chief administrative officer with Montgomery County, Maryland, and is working on his accreditation as a city manager by the International City/County Management Association. 

He also has experience as senior deputy director of the District of Columbia Government Department of Small & Local Business Development, where he also served as the chief of staff of the department of general services. 

He also spent four years as an associate administrator for the federal General Services Administration, and has city government experience in Alexandria, Virginia, and Greensboro, North Carolina. 

LeCerf is the town manager in Johnstown, Colorado, which has a population of roughly 17,500, a job he has held since October 2018. 

LeCerf is an ICMA-credentialed  manager – a key qualification for the City Commission in its candidate search. 

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BUCKHANNON — A local student is still beaming with excitement after receiving his acceptance letter to attend the Interlochen Arts Academy (IAA).

Camden Wentz, age 17, sat down with his mom, Lorna Wentz, on Wednesday evening to tell The Record Delta about his amazing accomplishment. Wentz, a junior at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, applied to the IAA in March of 2021 and just recently received his acceptance letter. Wentz is currently a cellist of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra. “In a normal year, we travel two and a half hours every Sunday afternoon in order to be able to rehearse on Heinz Hall stage,” explained Wentz. When Wentz isn’t performing or practicing, he enjoys all things math and science.

IAA draws young people from around the world to study music, theater, dance, visual arts, creative writing, motion picture arts, and comparative arts. Interlochen Center for the Arts (ICA) is the umbrella organization for Interlochen Arts Camp, formerly the National Music Camp that was founded 1928, Interlochen Arts Academy boarding high school, founded in 1962, Interlochen Public Radio, founded in 1963, and the Interlochen Presents performing arts series.

Wentz said he started playing violin in the sixth grade and transitioned to the cello when he saw a need in the school orchestra. His love for the cello reportedly blossomed from there. Wentz previously auditioned for the IAA summer program and when given the opportunity to apply for their boarding program, an application was submitted just shy of the cutoff date. Upon completion of paperwork, Wentz plans to attend his senior year and graduate from IAA.

“We are amazed, astounded, and so proud that he’s accomplished so much in a short amount of time,” his mother said. “He always has music playing.” Wentz chose the orchestra path based on a clip from the famous movie Titanic. He plans to pursue music into a higher level after graduation. Plans to move into the conservatory level and the introduction to many high-profile arts contacts are exactly what Camden needs to get him to where he sees himself in 10 years—in New York.

“It seems like there is some sort of barrier you cross. You go from just playing music for fun to investing so much time and effort into it. You become part of that piece,” Wentz explained.

The musical prodigy also founded and conducts the Upshur County Youth Symphony, where students from six different counties in West Virginia are represented. “I founded the Upshur County Youth Symphony to promote classical music in my community because it is gradually dying away around here,” said Wentz. 

The Interlochen Arts Academy is the highest profile pre-professional arts boarding high school worldwide and was founded in 1962 by Joseph E. Maddy. As of 2019, there were 350 faculty and staff, and approximately 550 students, from freshman to post-graduates.

Interlochen has offered an immersive arts experience since 1982. The program is offered to students in grades 3-12. It is also offered to adults who wish to further expand their