The Madras Aquatic Center Recreation District Board unanimously voted to seek a consultant to work as interim executive director at its meeting Thursday, Aug. 27.
The week prior, the board voted to terminate the employment of Director Jim Weyermann.
At the Aug. 27 meeting, three members of the public spoke about that decision and had some suggestions for moving forward.
Bruce Irwin said he has been a resident for 5 1/2 years and has 18 years' experience in parks and recreation.
He said he would be willing to help the district.
Then Tom Norton spoke. He said that he respects the board and understands board work because of his service on the Jefferson County 509-J School Board.
"I disagree with that decision," he said, adding that he doesn't know all the ins and outs of it.
Norton said he is happy to have a pool in the community, and it seemed the "financial ship was finally righted."
For too long, Norton said, people couldn't separate the programs for their emotions and do what was right for the community long-term.
"I feel that was finally done from what I heard and observed," Norton said.
Norton said Weyermann wasn't the most polished. "It gives me concern that we let that overshadow the long-term stability of the pool," he said. "I am frustrated with that. I wanted to share that."
Norton said Weyermann was directly involved with the recreation programs, and kids were developing their skills.
"I'm sure it's too late, but I don't like the decision, and I wanted to come to this board and express that," he said.
Bud Beamer said he got word that Weyermann had been fired while he was fishing in Alaska, and it ruined his vacation.
Beamer spent significant time with Weyermann, he said, and Weyermann created a plan for dealing with COVID and promoted the facility.
Weyermann also raised the bar in terms of teaching kids fundamentals, Beamer said, "and the kids loved him.
"I don't know if it was personal issues," Beamer said.
He knew that people were upset ever since a multimillion project for a sports complex at Juniper Hills Park didn't go through, and Beamer thought the board had been micromanaging Weyermann.
"He dealt with professionals and men and kings, and to be micromanaged was offensive," Beamer said.
After the public comments, Board Chairman Taylor Lark said the board was considering three options for operational leadership.
First, the board could retain operational decision-making authority. Second, the board could assign a staff member as interim executive director. Third, it could designate a consultant as interim executive director.
Consultant Courtney Snead, who has been working with the district on its strategic plan, drafted a list of things the board could ask the interim director to work on.
They included recruiting a new executive director; overseeing day-to-day administration; working with the board as a liaison between the board and staff, as well as developing an operating manual for the board; financial management; evaluating the organizational structure and defining the roles and responsibilities of staff; marketing; capital improvements; technology management; and developing and implementing professional development plans for the board and management team.
Snead recommended the board to consider a mid-length or longer duration for a consultant.
One member of the board said he didn't believe a volunteer board should be making operational decisions, and members Jinnell Lewis and Lindsay Foster-Drago agreed.
Gregg Markwardt, director of recreation and aquatics education, thought it would be better to have a consultant than to designate him or office manager Trudy Haugen as interim director.
"I'm still able to do what I need to do by having that person work really closely with the management team," he said. The center is in a good spot now, and putting that work on his or Haugen's plate "might be a bit much," he said.
Foster-Drago said she wanted to hear Markwardt's and Haugen's opinions and was inclined to follow their wishes.
Lewis agreed, saying the last time the district hired an interim director, that worked better.
"I think it's nice to have an interim person to go to — and for the board," Lewis said.
Lark said the board also needed to consider a timeline for the interim director and should consider stability and consistency for the organization and community, as well as recruiting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Haugen said a nine-month term would be good because between now and October, the district will be preparing for an audit.
Lark said he wanted to set up the next executive director to be in the best possible position to succeed.
Lewis said the board could reevaluate in six months and then extend the term if needed. She also wanted to see a three-month overlap so the interim director could help train the new person.
The board voted to allow Lark to work with the district's attorney to solicit and negotiate a professional services contract.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.