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Paynesville Press - July 18, 2001

Council fires Dennis Wilde
City to start search for new administrator

By Michael Jacobson

Administrator Dennis Wilde was terminated by the city last Wednesday, July 11, after a half-hour closed council session to discuss personnel matters.

The council voted unanimously to terminate Wilde for nondisciplinary reasons and authorized the co-interim administrators - Gayla Orbeck and Ron Mergen - to start the hiring process.

Wilde had heart bypass surgery in May 2000 and had been on medical leave again since April 2001.

"It was a tough decision, but in the best interest of the city it had to be done," writes Mayor Jeff Thompson in his Press column this week. "Existing staff has been doing a great job in filling in and handling tasks throughout Dennis' extended absences. But it wasn't a good long-term situation, and it was time to move on."

Wilde served six years as city administrator in Paynesville, coming to town in July 1995 from Mountain Lake, where he held a similar position.

During Wilde's tenure in Paynesville, the city annexed land from the township for both the Project 55 and WilGlo Acres developments, the first annexation in 15 years. The city and township also reached an orderly annexation agreement that sets ground rules for annexation in the future.

The effort to build a new airport also began during his time as city administrator.

Wilde became EDAP director during his time in Paynesville. EDAP projects during his tenure include Louis Industries building a multi-million dollar plant.

The Press contacted Wilde, who did not care to comment.

Hiring process
The timeline for the hiring process will be better established following a personnel committee meeting today (Wednesday, July 18). The committee will review the city administrator's job description and the amount and type of experience needed for the job.

The opening will be posted internally for two weeks, unless the city employees waive this option. "If someone from the city met the qualifications and the council felt they could do the job, the city could hire them without looking outside," said Thompson in an interview with the Press.

If the city looks outside, they would need to advertise the position, sort through the applications, interview, and hire. This would take a minimum of three months, and more realistically at least six months before someone was on the job as city administrator, said Thompson.

The city must follow guidelines during the hiring process. "It's a long, drawn out, tedious affair," said Thompson, who also serves on the personnel committee that will supervise the hiring.

Other personnel committee members are council member Dave Peschong, and interim administrators Gayla Orbeck and Ron Mergen.

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