PGC appoints interim chief

Harrisburg — The Pennsylvania Game Commission had one executive director as of 8 a.m. Jan. 17. It had another by 4 p.m. that same day.
And yet?
It’s searching for what will be its third director in a matter of weeks or months right now.
Director Carl Roe retired from the agency as of the close of business Jan. 17, bringing to a close a career that dates to 2001. He served as the agency’s first-ever long-range planner for about four years, then took over the top job from the retiring Vern Ross on Dec. 30, 2005.
His retirement was not entirely voluntary. Sources say his relationship with the board had grown contentious over time, and he ultimately stepped aside “for the good of the agency.”
Roe announced his retirement in July. The board did not advertise the opening until fall, though, with applications due by Oct. 31 of last year.
Thirty-three were received, said Commissioner Dave Putnam, of Centre County. The eight-member commission board reviewed those and cut the list by more than half. Further review knocked the pool of candidates down to five, including some from within Pennsylvania and some from outside.
The board – all commissioners have been invited to participate – will do interviews on Feb. 5 and 6.
“We definitely have some good people,” Putnam said, though he declined to identify any, or even say if any were already commission employees.
“We are making progress,” agreed Commissioner Ralph Martone, of Lawrence County. “It’s not necessarily speeding along, but we got some highly qualified candidates.”
In the meantime, though, the commission needed a director. Someone has to be in charge to sign land deals, approve contracts and more, Martone said. By law, that can’t be an “interim” director; someone has to be given the job officially and fully, he added.
That person is Matt Hough.
A 33-year veteran of the commission, Hough graduated from the agency’s Ross Leffler School of Conservation in June of 1981 as part of its 18th graduating class. He served as a wildlife conservation officer right out of school, first in Westmoreland County, then in his native Washington.
In 1992 he was promoted to the southwest region office, where he held a number of jobs, the last being regional director. He moved to the agency’s Harrisburg office as deputy executive director in 2010.
Hough will serve as director only until a replacement is found. Then, depending on how soon that is, he’ll either go back to this deputy director job or retire, which was already on his radar, Martone said.
While he’s in charge, his plans include conducting a full review of the agency’s finances to make sure the Game Commission will continue to prosper going forward, he said.
“I am very pleased the board of commissioners has shown its confidence in me by unanimously approving my appointment, and I will work tirelessly to continue the many successes the Game Commission has achieved over the years,” Hough said.

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