Search narrows for new CAO

The Town of Fort Frances will be one step closer to seeing a new CAO hired after a selection committee meets a shortlist of applicants for the position tomorrow.
Mayor Dan Onichuk, along with Couns. Neil Kabel and Roy Avis, travelled to Thunder Bay today to meet with a rep from consulting firm Wescott Thomas, which was retained by the town a few months ago as executive search consultant for the purpose of finding candidates for the position.
“We’ll be interviewing a shortlist of six to eight candidates determined by the ‘headhunter’ we’ve retained,” Mayor Onichuk said yesterday.
“After that, we’re going to pare down the six to eight to three. Then, the entire council will interview those three and, if they decide on one, hire [that person],” he added.
Mayor Onichuk noted a new CAO could be hired by next month, but he doesn’t want to rush the process.
“On one hand, it would have been nice to have somebody in place yesterday,” he said. “But on the other hand, we may go through the shortlist and still not have a suitable candidate.
“We want to make the right choice,” he stressed.
The mayor added it’s probable that council will make a decision by the end of January, but as to when the new CAO would start likely will hinge on their own personal schedule and commitments.
He noted the selection committee agreed to meet the candidates in Thunder Bay because it was easier than flying them into Fort Frances from “all over.”
But Mayor Onichuk added he couldn’t reveal any more details, such as where the shortlisted candidates may be from or if they’re from a number of local internal applicants for the job.
Wescott Thomas specializes in recruiting administrators for municipal governments, having performed similar services in Geraldton and Thunder Bay, among other places.
Mark McCaig, CEO and president of the Fort Frances Power Corp., has been serving as interim CAO since CAO Bill Naturkach retired Sept. 30 after 35 years of working for the town.
In related news, the town has appointed Milt Strachan as superintendent of works on an interim basis after Raymond Roy left that job last month to become the new manager of plant operations and maintenance for the Rainy River District School Board.
Strachan—a mechanic with Public Works—will fill the position for up to six months. He started working at that job late last month, Human Resources manager Christine Ruppenstein said.
But as to whether the town will be hiring a permanent new superintendent of works remains to be seen, added Ruppenstein.