South Peace News
The Town of High Prairie has terminated the employment of newly- hired CAO Sherry Poole.
Council made three motions at a special meeting July 4, the first day Poole was to begin work. The meeting began at 8:19 p.m. and came out of closed session at 10:48 p.m.
In unapproved minutes to be ratified by council at its July 12 meeting, the first motion was the appointment and probationary period of Poole made June 14 that she be terminated effectively immediately. The vote was unanimous and first agreed to at a special meeting June 30.
The second was Mayor Brian Panasiuk be authorized to work with legal counsel to finalize the details of Poole’s termination. The vote was again unanimous.
The third was council direct administration to bring back three ‘head hunter’ proposals to council for consideration. ‘Head hunter’ is the term given to organizations which research potential CAO candidates. Only Councillor James Waikle opposed.
On June 14, councillors Donna Deynaka, Sacha Martens, and Judy Stenhouse opposed the hiring of Poole while Panasiuk, and councillors John Dunn, Waikle, and Theresa Yacyshyn approved. At the meeting Martens brought forward inaccuracies on Poole’s resume. Two were confirmed by South Peace News. Poole did not respond to the inaccuracies when provided a chance.
At the June 28 meeting many citizens appeared before council upset with the decision and voiced concerns.
“I think we’ve heard the message,” Panasiuk told the concerned delegations.
One of the other issues raised was a possible payout and/or severance package for Poole. Because Panasiuk is working with counsel to finalize details of Poole’s termination, he declined to comment – a common practice between parties during negotiations.
Since June 14, council has held several special meetings, all regarding personnel. Because the issue regards personnel, council cannot comment on specifics, including whether or not the meetings were held to discuss Poole’s hiring and/or firing. However, the majority of meetings did in fact
involve Poole as motions prove.
The June 21 special meeting lasted from 6:30 p.m. to 8:18 p.m. with no motion arising.
June 23, another meeting occurred two days later, starting at 6:30 p.m. and ending at 8:29 p.m. No motions arose from the meeting.
A third special meeting was held June 27 starting at 8:15 p.m. and ending at 10:02 p.m. A motion was made by Councillor Judy Stenhouse to rescind the offer to hire Poole but defeated. A recorded vote was not requested.
A fourth special meeting was held June 30 starting at 11 a.m. and ending at 11:38 a.m. Motions did arise from the meeting. In a recorded vote requested by Martens, the motion read: “That written notice be given to Sherry Poole pursuant to the Municipal Government Act of council’s intention to terminate her employment and appointment as the [CAO] due to the false information contained in her application and corresponding impact on the Town’s reputation and her ability to succeed in the role of CAO.”
The vote was unanimous and clearly indicated the reason involving errors on Poole’s resume.
However, at the June 14 meeting before the vote to hire Poole, Panasiuk, Dunn, Waikle and Yacyshyn voted to hire Poole despite being informed by Martens of the errors on the Poole’s resume. It took them 16 days and several special meetings to change their minds.
Council also made a second motion. They agreed to a fifth special meeting July 4 “to discuss negotiations” where three other motions were made.
A sixth special meeting was held July 5 starting at 12:05 p.m. and coming out of closed session at 12:23 p.m. A motion was made to appoint Hermann Minderlein as interim CAO effective July 6. In a recorded vote requested by Martens, she and Stenhouse opposed.
The minutes of special meetings held since June 21 are subject to council’s approval at their July 12 meeting.