By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – The Community Services wing of the Morinville Community Cultural Centre is down one employee after Kerry Dawson, the Town’s Director of Community Services, stepped down July 3 to enter retirement. Dawson came to Morinville less than two years ago as the replacement for Susan MacDonald, who left in October of 2011 after accepting a position in Lacombe to be closer to her family.
Dawson’s departure leaves vacant the role of Director of Community Services, a position that oversees the Town’s Community Services programming, the Town’s Family and Community Support Services, and the operation of the Morinville Community Cultural Centre.
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Debbie Oyarzun said Thursday she will be spending some of her time over the next two to three weeks working out of Dawson’s office at the community cultural centre to get a better understanding of Community Services as a whole.
“I want to help make sure Community Services has the same vision and priorities of the larger corporation,” Oyarzun said, adding the department recently completed a strategic plan with the assistance of a facilitator. “They’ve come up with a very good document that really and truly reflects that the staff do understand what the community needs. In that sense, it does align with what Council has spoken about as well.”
Oyarzun said the department would focus on staying on that track and moving things forward to set the department up for success. “There’s a lot of good things going on there that we’re not hearing about,” Oyarzun said, noting in her first two days operating out of the department she learned of programs within Community Services she had previously not been aware of. Her focus with the department over the next three weeks will be to establish some paths so the department is better integrated with the rest of the Town operation and to establish better communication opportunities from Community Services to the rest of the Town.
With respect to Dawson’s retirement, the CAO said she believed things happen for a reason. “Kerry came in about a year-and-a-half ago and she got things started, and did a bit of reorganizing within the department,” Oyarzun said. “Now I’m going to go and set the foundation in there, set the process in there so we set them up for success and set the new director up for success.”
Oyarzun said she believed the position, which is a working postion rather than merely a managing position, was necessary within the Town structure and would be filled.