EBENSBURG - Steve Ettien, Cambria County's chief clerk, is stepping down next month to fulfill a lifelong dream of running a ranch in Bedford County.
In between cowboy jokes, the announcement was a sad one, said President Commissioner Douglas Lengenfelder, who said he considered Ettien a friend.
Lengenfelder said when he first approached Ettien about 2 years ago about working in the county's technology department, Ettien promised to give him two years.
Lengenfelder said he'd hoped to talk him into staying longer and said in his time with the county, Ettien has "saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars." Lengenfelder added that Ettien will be missed.
About a year ago - only a few months after Ettien bought his 15-acre ranch near Manns Choice - Ettien was promoted from information technology director to chief clerk by a 2-to-1 vote, replacing Dave Knepper.
Commissioner Thomas Chernisky voted against Ettien, saying that he would have rather advertised for the position.
Chernisky jokingly asked for a roll-call vote to have it on the record of him voting for Ettien "for once," he said.
Ettien, a retired U.S. Marine, said he was thankful for the "fantastic" chance to learn the inner workings of county government. His resignation is effective Sept. 13.
Lengenfelder said that, much as other offices have had to hold off on hirings, the commissioners' office also is waiting to make a decision on Ettien's job.
The county must have a chief clerk by law, he said, but officials are looking at whether they can downsize the office or shift some staff duties around before hiring someone else.
Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich is at 946-7520.