The Devils Lake Water Improvement District vote 3-2 Thursday, March 10th to take the District in a new direction by terminating their contract with Lake Manager Paul Robertson.
Members of the Board said the dismissal was a tough decision. Kent Norris board chair stated that the District needed a new manager to promote and manage the projects recently approved which are designed to clean up Devils Lake.
Additionally, the Board passed a resolution temporally placing the reigns of the District in the board chairs hands. Since then, Tina French and Kent Norris have been handling the agency’s business affairs. Perhaps this most pressing near term task will be the creation of the 2016-2017 budget due by June 1st.
Additional steps include working with Dr Horne on the recently approved contract moving forward with the first steps of the aeration project aimed at eliminating toxic algae blooms that threaten the lake’s recreation and health.
The vote to dismiss the lake manager came after an executive meeting was held the day before where directors met with Robertson to review his job performance and discuss renewing his contract. Robertson stated that he was aware of what awaited him prior to the March board meeting.
Robertson, was hired as lake manager in 2005. During his tenure, there have been many debates over placement of SolarBees, lake levels, replacement of grass carp, recently peaking in the plan to remove the summer impoundment structure.
A workshop was held Monday, March 14, to talk about hiring a new manager; about 25 people attended. Bill Anderson of the Special Districts Association of Oregon described the public hiring process and explained that as members of the SDA the DLIWD board is welcome to his organization’s assistance.
Citizens who attended the meeting participated in the process of identifying the qualities and skills they want in a manager. They also suggested where it could be appropriate to contract for some tasks including accounting, annual placement of the dam and lakeside kiosks, board recording and minutes, website maintenance and more.
The Newport NewsTimes reported one attendees comments, “Everybody was very respectful ,” said Ross Smith, Jr., a resident who expected “fireworks” to erupt over Robertson’s dismissal. “They all seemed focused on moving forward. At the end, everybody applauded.”
In conclusion, it appears that the Board is organized and prepared to keep the business of the District moving forward. They appear to to have a strong desire to keep the public involved in the process and have assured us that good things are in store for Devils Lake.