Filling Coffey's shoes proved a formidable task for Danville city staff. At the October approval of Coffey's contract with the city, City Clerk Donna Peek reported responses to job advertising in various media outlets elicited only a handful of responses.
At that time, the city elected to go back to the drawing board and study the ordinance creating the city engineer position.
The ordinance, written in 1979, had not been edited since its inception. Now, however, the ordinance has been reworked to eliminate much of the city engineer's duties pertaining to the city's public works department.
In the end, City Manager Paul Stansbury explained after the meeting, Coffey was one of three candidates for the position interviewed by a panel of Peek, Boyle County Engineer Duane Campbell, former city engineer Luther Galloway, former director of Public Works Tony Griffin, and Stansbury himself.
Coffey was the recommendation of the panel and presented to the City Commission in an executive session Tuesday night.
After leaving the executive session, the commission voted 4-1 to hire Coffey back into his old position.
According to Peek, Coffey will return at the same pay rate as when he left; however, he will be subject to the same probationary stipulations as any other new hire by the City of Danville.
Coomer votes against Coffey
The lone vote in opposition to Coffey's rehiring belonged to Mayor Hugh Coomer. Coomer paused for several moments before casting his vote and offering an explanation.
"I vote no, and this is no reflection on Earl, but I would've chosen to go with a different candidate, whom I will not name," the mayor said.
Coffey was not at the Tuesday meeting, but was reached for comment Wednesday afternoon. Light-hearted in tone, Coffey said he was happy to be back working for the city he loves.
"I really just missed the city of Danville, and interacting with its people," said Coffey.
Despite the apparent change of heart, Coffey said his choice to return involved no regret whatsoever.
"It's not that I didn't enjoy what I was doing (with Gray Engineering). It's just Danville is where my heart is," he said.
Although he worked in London for the past five months, Coffey and his family never moved from Danville.
Though a definite start date has yet to be ironed out, Coffey is in the process of working it out with Gray Engineering.
Coffey said he has several long term goals for the city, but in a more short-term manner, he's looking forward to a number of on-going city projects he'd previously had a hand in shaping.
One role that will likely remain unfilled for roughly six months is that of director of Public Works.
Griffin retired from that capacity at the end of 2008. Stansbury said he would like to see Assistant City Engineer Josh Morgan handle the public works aspects of the engineering office during the interim, obtaining hands-on experience with the department. After an undetermined period of time, Stansbury said Morgan would be able to offer the city an educated recommendation on someone to fill that role.