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Ross native ready to lead township as manager

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
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Douglas Sample became manager of Ross Township in January 2013. He is a Ross native.

It was a moment of happy discovery for Douglas Sample, Ross Township's manager.

“I found them,” said the Ross native, who followed the township's news about the former manager and the interim company that filled the administrative role. Through an ad, Sample learned of the opening and then sent in his resume.

“I knew most of the issues,” he said. “Nothing new popped up.”

After two interviews and a review of his 10 years of municipal-management experience, Sample, 37, was hired to serve his neighbors in December and started work in January.

“Hopefully, this is the last stop,” he said.

Sample's father, John Jr., 64, has been on the township's planning commission for seven or eight years.

“I knew he would do a very good job,” the elder Sample said. He credits his son's grandparents for developing the new manager's social conscience.

“His grandmother is 95 and still politically active. She's never missed a vote.”

Douglas Sample had built on his University of Pittsburgh bachelor's degree in political science and history with a master's degree in public administration from the same school. His first goal was a career in research and analysis, but through an internship focusing on economic development in Neville Township, he discovered a new passion.

“I wanted to implement change and see change happening,” the North Hills Senior High School graduate said.

So, he worked in and learned about municipal government in Upper St. Clair, Crafton and Bellevue in various capacities. Most recently, he had been director of administrative services in Bellevue.

“He worked very hard,” the senior Sample said. “He's very knowledgeable and really analyzes a situation. He's a deep thinker.”

Township Commissioner Grace Stanko said she wasn't surprised at the unanimous vote for Sample's appointment.

“He had the education, the experience. He's professional in everything he's done,” said Stanko, citing his newer perspective but one enlightened by the fact that he grew up in the township.

“There's a lot of responsibility in a municipality this large. He was ready and willing to take over,” she said, “and he knows where the streets are.”

Commissioner Daniel DeMarco would add “forward thinker” to the list of Sample's qualities.

The two men had worked together on intermunicipal issues while serving CONNECT, the Congress of Neighboring Communities, a partnership of the city of Pittsburgh and its adjacent suburbs. According to DeMarco, Sample can thoughtfully determine “what the community needs to target goals for the future.”

And with plans to develop a new comprehensive plan for Ross coming up, Sample's skills will be invaluable.

“He's knowledgeable and good helping communities meet goals,” said DeMarco, 48, “Doug is the man to do that.”

In the early months of his tenure, Sample spent his time meeting department heads, getting into issues, touring areas of the township and getting a feel for everything, he said.

Projects already are on the table. There's the construction of a storm-water-reduction dam on Cemetery Lane, the redevelopment of the Shoppes at Northway and the resolution of how the site of the former Highland Country Club will be used.

He'll carry on the renaissance he sees happening on McKnight Road as the township commissioners work “to maintain and attract business.”

“The township has not fallen on hard times with its balance between commercial and residential,” he said. “It's an affordable place to live and only 10 minutes from Pittsburgh.”

For the 30,000 residents in the 14 and a half square miles, Sample will keep his attention on the budget.

“I want to continue the level of service to the residents and keep costs down.”

For that and more, his parents can be proud.

“He takes to heart privacy issues and is very conscientious,” his father said. “He's a good kid, but he could have cleaned up his room more when he was young.”

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or ddreeland@tribweb.com.

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