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There’s a new, albeit familiar, person in charge of the Town of Tonawanda’s Youth, Parks and Recreation Department.

Jeffrey P. Ehlers was appointed director by the Town Board on Monday. He succeeds Daniel J. Wiles, with whom he’d worked since being hired in 1984 and promoted to second-in-command in 2008.

Wiles, who retired last week, worked more than 35 years in the department and served as its director since 2000.

Though Ehlers was considered the heir apparent, town officials said they conducted a search that attracted applicants from Texas and Tennessee.

Of the approximately 20 applicants, 12 were disqualified by the Erie County Department of Civil Service, according to Councilman Daniel J. Crangle, chairman of the Town Board’s Youth, Parks and Recreation/Senior Citizens Committee. The remaining eight were interviewed during the past month.

“There’s no question that Jeff Ehlers stood out,” Crangle said, citing his work ethic and experience.

Ehlers said he’s going through a period of adjustment.

“I’m meeting with staff ... just to try and let them know what my plans are as far as running everything,” Ehlers said, noting that he’s proceeding cautiously with the department’s budget.

The director’s job pays $107,373 annually.

In the short term, Ehlers said, there’s been a high level of interest from people who would like to rent the new Donald F. Kunzelman Pavilion in Lincoln Park, for which reservations will be accepted starting Friday.

“We got so many phone calls,” he said.

email: jhabuda@buffnews.com