Sean Janssen, The Union Democrat

Changes are afoot in much of the Angels Camp city government leadership as a new city engineer has come aboard while the city attorney, finance officer and museum director positions remain in transition.

Dave Myers, 54, a former Oakdale public works director and city engineer, who resides in Sonora, is the first city engineer on staff. Engineering services were previously contracted but the city chose to bring those duties in-house during development of the annual budget last June.

City Administrator Michael McHatten estimated the shift will save the city about $150,000 a year, typically even more in those years when major infrastructure projects occur. Myers' salary is $84,000 annually.

Myers came aboard in November and works out of the city's new Community Development Department office on city-owned property next to the Police Department on Monte Verda Street. The offices of the planning and building staff moved from rented space on Stanislaus Avenue after Cal Fire, who leased the portables while constructing a new Altaville fire station, moved out in November.

That saves about $1,000 a month in rental costs, McHatten said.

Myers is a Santa Cruz transplant who nevertheless has lengthy family ties to the Mother Lode, with ancestors who worked at the once-lucrative Utica Mine in Angels Camp.

"All my brothers and sisters were born up here, but I am the baby of the family," he said.

Though he never lived in the foothills as a child, ironically, he has come back to his forefathers' home but said none of his older siblings did.

Myers said he expects to focus on the city's water and sewer utilities primarily, with somewhat less time needing to be devoted to roads and parks based on what he has seen thus far.

The city has also been without the services of City Attorney Richard Matranga for the first time in 17 years after Matranga notified the city of his decision to step down from that role abouta month ago. Matranga has had health issues in recent years, stemming from a 2004 diagnosis with Parkinson's Disease. He remains the city attorney for his hometown of Sonora, a role he has held for the past 28 years.

The city appointed Derek Cole of the Rose-ville law firm Cota Cole & Associates as interim city attorney, on an hourly rate basis of $185, as needed. McHatten said he is preparing a bid request for a permanent city attorney, for which Cota Cole will be eligible. The firm also handles the city attorney role for the Amador County municipality of Sutter Creek.

City Finance Officer Melisa Ralston retired effective Dec. 1 and had been with the city of Angels Camp since 2003. Financial services are being handled on an interim basis through a contract with Vavrinek, Trine, Day, an accounting firm with offices in Sacramento, McHatten said. The firm is also the financial services provider for Sutter Creek.

"They are very familiar with cities this size and what we deal with," McHatten said.

He said the financial officer vacancy will be advertised "to see what's out there" but no decision has been made whether to permanently fill those duties on a contract basis or with a new staffer.

The city has been without a museum director since the sudden and unexpected dismissal of Craig Hadley in September. Hadley worked as a private contractor but the city already decided to make the director a city employee in the near future, with an annual salary range of $64,000 to $78,000. Hadley earned $60,000 a year through the contract.

McHatten said an initial recruitment for that position identified a top candidate hailing from Wyoming with whom the city could not reach an agreement. As a result, the job will be re-posted soon, he said.