Salem is beginning the process of hiring a new police chief following the announcement of current chief Keith Steelman’s plans for retirement at Monday night’s board of aldermen meeting.

Steelman intends to retire in February. The city is now taking applications.

“Chief is making plans for retirement and the mayor wanted to get out in front with a smooth transition,” city administrator Ray Walden told the board. Mayor Brad Nash has directed Walden to post the opening and take applications for at least two weeks.

Police chief is a position appointed by the mayor with the approval by the board of aldermen.

“As the mayor has a chance to process those applications, I’m sure he’ll be coordinating with you all on a recommendation for your consideration for that successor,” Walden told aldermen.

“The thought is to do that transition in a coordinated fashion. We think it’s best for the department as well as the community to coordinate that to the extent possible, so that’s why we’re posting it now,” he added.

Steelman expects the process to take at least three months with all the interviews and required background checks. “It takes a while,” he told The Salem News after the meeting. “They need to start now getting ready for February.”

The board also approved a resolution adopting the new Salem and Dent County Economic Development Strategy plan compiled by Sally Burbridge, economic developer for both entities, after a series of public workshops that began in January.

According to the resolution, the goals of the plan are to develop community assets to encourage new investment and job growth, create investment in quality of life factors conducive to business innovation, increase tourism, community pride and employment opportunities, enhance workforce education and training, encourage business development and develop regional partnerships.

Burbridge told aldermen the plan itself does not commit city funds toward achieving those goals.

“By adopting this tonight, you give direction to staff, through the city administrator, to start working on these items,” she said. “There’ s no dollar amount attached to any of them at this point. That will be in future budgeting sessions in future years as appropriate and available.”

For more details, see next week’s issue of The Salem News.