By Stephen Dafoe
Sturgeon County – County Commissioner Chris Micek is still Sturgeon County’s Chief Administrative Officer, according to Corporate Services Manager Rick Wojtkiw.
Rumours have been circulating in and out of political circles for a couple weeks that Micek, who began his position as County Commissioner in January of 2009, had or was in the process of being let go.
Council had added a personnel matter to Tuesday morning’s brief council agenda and went in camera to discuss it at 12:55, returning to public and media participation more than an hour later. Few details emerged from council’s in camera discussion other than the revelation council had voted 4-3 to “proceed on a personnel matter consistent with legal advice and as discussed in camera.” That decision, whatever it may have been, was opposed by Mayor Don Rigney and Councillors Don McGeachy and David Kluthe.
In an interview Wednesday afternoon, Wojtkiw said he did not know what council discussed in camera Tuesday. “That was in camera and if there was any discussion between Council and himself, we are not aware of that as administration,” Wojtkiw said. “All we are for sure knowing is he [Micek] is still the CAO.”
MorinvilleNews.com was told Tuesday by a source who wished to remain anonymous that Micek had been escorted from the building Tuesday afternoon and that Peter Tarnawsky, Sturgeon County’s Manager of Public Services, who was dismissed from his position by Micek a week earlier, could be returning to take on the CAO role.
Wojtkiw said he had no knowledge of Mr. Micek being escorted from the building Tuesday and although he confirmed Micek was not on site at the County offices in Morinville Wednesday, he was still employed as CAO.
“Unfortunately, there was that rumour that he was escorted out of the building,” he said. “As far as I know he wasn’t escorted out of the building, and he did go to a meeting last night.”
CAO position appears to be on the line
Deputy Mayor Joe Milligan confirmed Wednesday night that Micek was still Sturgeon County’s CAO; however, he also confirmed Micek was the subject of Tuesday’s in camera session.
“We were in camera so I really can’t speak to it, but it isn’t really final until he has a hearing coming on Tuesday,” Milligan said, noting he anticipated council would make the final decision at that time on Micek’s fate.
Milligan had voted Tuesday in favour of “proceed[ing] on a personnel matter consistent with legal advice and as discussed in camera;” however, he declined to discuss particulars or why he voted as he did.
Deputy Mayor Milligan was a little more open about discussing the dismissal of Sturgeon County’s Manager of Public Services, Peter Tarnawsky, who had been dismissed by Commissioner Micek the week before. Tarnawsky was quickly replaced by Troy Grant, who had worked closely with Sturgeon County in the joint County / Garrison Canada Day celebrations.
Milligan said Tarnawsky’s dismissal was not a council decision but one made by the County Commissioner. Milligan said Grant’s hiring without the job being posted was not unheard of. “It’s Mr. Micek’s decision, I guess,” the deputy mayor said. “We have hired department heads before without any competition.”
Sturgeon County Mayor Don Rigney returned our request for an interview late Wednesday night, but declined to speak to what was discussed by council Tuesday. The mayor confirmed Micek was still Sturgeon County’s CAO and that he was not escorted from the building Tuesday as had been claimed. Mayor Rigney expressed his displeasure at those who made the claim, calling the rumours unfair and inequitable.
MorinvilleNews.com will continue to monitor the story and bring the details as they are made available.