MT fire chief Rick Kane

New Manheim Township manager and former Fire and Rescue Chief Rick Kane.

The newly Republican-controlled Manheim Township Board of Commissioners voted Monday night to replace Democrat-appointed Township Manager James Drumm with former township fire Chief Rick Kane.

Board President Donna DiMeo said in a text and a statement the decision was a “mutual separation,” the result of differences between the board and Drumm, who did not attend the meeting.

“We can dream more, do more and learn more,” DiMeo said as she welcomed Kane, who will be sworn on the morning of Jan. 31 and in a ceremony at the Feb. 14 commissioners meeting. “We are fortunate to have him back on board.” Kane attended the meeting but did not speak.

The board unanimously voted to give Drumm a 30-day notice of termination and to hire Kane to fill Drumm’s unexpired term, until the first Monday of January 2024. Kane recently resigned as fire chief, saying he planned to take a position in the private sector.

Drumm, who previously served as city manager in Brunswick, Georgia, was appointed manager last March at an annual salary of $135,000 when the board was controlled by Democrats. It has since flipped to Republican control. He was reappointed at the Jan. 3 meeting.

Commissioner John Bear congratulated Kane, noting that “it’s best to harvest from within Manheim Township.”

The move to replace the township’s top administrator comes as one of the first acts of the newly elected Republican board majority. At the board’s first meeting of the year, the new majority voted to abolish a police advisory commission created in 2020 by the previous board.

Prior to Drumm’s hiring, the township manager position was held by Sean Molchany, starting in 2014. He worked for the township for 26 years before his firing in 2020, after the then-newly Democratic board wanted a new manager who would “help pursue the board’s legislative and policy agenda,” former Commissioner Sam Mecum said at the time.

Molchany received nearly $80,000 in unused sick days and an additional $60,100 — half of his annual salary, which was $120,200. He was hired in Akron Borough as the assistant borough manager in February 2021, where he remains employed.

During the 2021 municipal election campaign, the GOP slate of candidates criticized their Democratic opponents’ firing of Molchany for political gain.

Kane, Drumm’s replacement, announced his resignation from the township in September 2021, and officially left the fire chief position this month. At the time of his resignation, he told the board he was pursuing a new job in the private sector.

Kane led Manheim Township Fire and Rescue since 2007. Over that time, he was credited with transitioning the township’s three fire stations into one department, adding several full-time firefighters, creating a fire marshal’s office with a safety inspection program for commercial businesses, serving as the township’s emergency management coordinator during the COVID-19 pandemic, and more.

— Staff writer Gillian McGoldrick contributed reporting for this story.

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