Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat

Tuolumne County will extend its search for a new counsel beyond its own offices, county leaders have decided.

The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to begin the search to replace County Counsel Gregory Oliver, who recently announced he is retiring in March 2013.

The board chose to use the county's Human Resources and County Administrator offices to conduct the search, which will reach out to candidates beyond the county borders.

County Administrator Craig Pedro, who recommended the recruitment process, said this is the first time in the past couple hires for the position that the search looked outside of the county to find new counsel.

"It will be aggressive," Pedro said. "It will be a broad net to try and reach candidates."

The county counsel is the top legal adviser and representation for the board and county government, serving directly under the board. The board will make the final hiring decision.

Oliver announced in July his plans to retire from the position as of March 12, citing a desire for a change. The announcement followed his unsuccessful bid for Tuolumne County Superior Court judgeship.

The search process will likely include initial screening of applications, candidate interviews with an expert panel and the Board of Supervisors, and a check on background and references. According to meeting documents, similar vacant positions with other counties drew about 20 applications.

The entire screening process is expected to yield between three and five finalists, with a new attorney in place March 13.

Though the board approved the process 5-0, multiple supervisors expressed some concerns over the coming search. Supervisor Randy Hanvelt said he wants to see candidates with private practice experience considered in the mix.

There "seems to be emphasis on getting people with (only) government experience," Hanvelt said.

Supervisor Evan Royce said he's concerned about beginning the search with a board that will at least have some changeover in the coming months. Supervisor Dick Pland is not seeking re-election in November, and Supervisor Liz Bass is running to keep her seat.

Royce said initially that he's "concerned that there's a continuity issue" if there is turnover. However, he did not propose any formal changes to the procedure.

In other news, the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors:

• Approved a project list proposed by the Resource Advisory Committee totaling $151,548. The maintenance, cleanup and education projects, which are funded with Secure Rural Schools money, are mainly located on national forest land.

• Approved a $100,475 contract with Overland, Pacific Cutler for consulting work on the right-of-way acquisition for the Buchanan Road project.

• Approved a $121,000 contract with AutoMon to assist with training and support on case management software for county probation and mental health.

• Recognized Tait James Melee for earning the Boy Scouts rank of Eagle Scout.