Citizen renews plea for mayor, council to resign

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

A High Prairie citizen’s second request asking mayor and council to resign in the aftermath of CAO Sherry Poole’s hiring and firing is falling on deaf ears.
Barry Sharkawi appeared in the public delegation portion of council’s July 26 meeting and renewed a request made at the July 12 meeting.
“Do the town a favour and resign, you guys,” he told council, adding trust has been lost with many citizens.
In addition to the handling of the Poole matter, Sharkawi expressed concern of the recent hiring of interim CAO Herman Minderlein.
“It bothered me so much,” said Sharkawi. “The way he was hired.”
Sharawki asked what Minderlein’s salary is.
“It is allowable to give out the wage,” replied Mayor Brian Panasiuk, adding he did not have the exact number in front of him but estimated the salary to be $132,000 to $133,000.
“We’ll get you the exact number,” promised Councillor James Waikle.
Sharkawi questioned the hiring process of Poole but attention quickly turned to the hiring of Minderlein. Waikle said Minderlein expressed an interest in the job previously and, “He was living in town and willing to do the job.”
Councillor Therese Yacyshyn said council needed a CAO and were short on time.
“We can’t be without one. We didn’t have any options at the time,” she said.
“Hermann offered his services to us, if need be,” added Councillor Donna Deynaka.
Councillor Sacha Martens voted against the hiring of Minderlein along with Councillor Judy Stenhouse.
“The reason I voted no is I never met the man,” said Martens.
Stenhouse was absent from the meeting.
“Council was not involved in that process,” added Martens, adding she was not sure how Minderlein was approached and offered the job.
Councillor John Dunn was satisfied all was in order and disclosed Minderlein twice previously applied for the job.
However, it means Minderlein was not selected over Poole in the second round of applications nor the first, when council decided again to try and hire a CAO.
“We followed process, Barry,” said Dunn. “He applied twice. We saw his resume. I’m all about process. That happened.”

Council thanked for reversing decision

Michelle Strebchuk appeared after Sharkawi and thanked council for its decision to not hire Poole.
“I appreciate the [citizens’] concerns were heard,” she told council, adding she appreciated council having the “courage to. . .to reverse a decision.”
Strebchuk did ask how much money the Poole matter cost council.
“There was a payout,” said Mayor Brian Panasiuk.
“I don’t know what the legal costs were.”
Later, Panasiuk added the settlement was reached with the help of lawyers “to make sure everything was clean.”
Strebchuk again asked for the numbers but they were not disclosed.
“Thank you for reversing your decision,” said Strebchuk.
“I know that wasn’t an easy decision.”
South Peace News filed a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy application July 28 [see story beginning on page 1] and is awaiting a reply.

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