BOWDEN — Mayor Robb Stuart says an advertisement for a new chief administrative officer (CAO) should be running shortly after current CAO Greg Skotheim announced plans to retire.
Skotheim, who has served as the town’s CAO for three years, plans to retire by July, Stuart said during an interview.
"We’ve hired a head hunter, for lack of a better term, an executive search team. They started work about a week ago," Stuart said.
“We’re just finalizing some of the things that they're going to put out there for attracting CAOs to Bowden. So hopefully, I would imagine an ad would be out next week some time.”
Skotheim was born on a farm near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
He began his career in municipal government in the late '80s working in recreation in the Northwest Territories, then in Three Hills. He also worked in Ponoka.
Later, he went back to Three Hills to work in public works and infrastructure, before moving to Didsbury where he had the same responsibilities.
During an interview with the Albertan, Skotheim was asked what he liked better – recreation or public works?
“I enjoyed them both,” he said, but noted as youth he loved athletics and coaching sports.
Skotheim said one of the accomplishments he’s most proud of in Bowden is facilitating economic development like the new businesses along Highway 2.
Another is luring the More Than Protein manufacturing plant to town.
“I really do think it might hopefully kind of spur on Bowden as an ag industry kind of location,” he said.
He’s also happy to have facilitated infrastructure improvements like sidewalks and road repairs in the community.
The latest accomplishment, Skotheim said, is getting the green light to construct a trail system in town.
He was also pleased to be involved in the installation of new, updated signs welcoming people to the community.
However, he stressed that all of those accomplishments were the result of teamwork between himself, staff and council.
“One person can’t do it all,” he said.
COVID-19 restrictions were among Skotheim's greatest challenges.
"COVID was a real challenge because the rules kept changing,” he said.
“I'm involved with emergency management and you're used to disasters lasting a couple of days or a week. But you’re not used to disasters lasting two years, and I think that was a real challenge to kind of keep on top of things and keep positive and move forward.”
A couple of issues will outlast his term.
One is the future of the arena roof. There are concerns it’s leaking and repairs could be ultra-costly.
“We’ve had engineering done and we’re going to be getting some more investigative work done to see what the issues are,” he said. “But we do have fundraising and we do have a grant and Red Deer County’s always helped us out with things like this so we’re hoping we can resolve this.”
Another is the future of the Bowden Hotel property. The decades-old hotel burned down on New Year’s Eve.
Ownership of the property and what to do with cleanup, due to asbestos are ongoing issues.
Skotheim said he’s enjoyed his career and his time as CAO in Bowden.
“I’m going to miss people in the business and councils. I’ve had a good run,” he said.
Skotheim was asked what he plans to do with his life now. He noted that he and his wife Tane, who works at École Olds High School, own a catering company “so I’m going to be a full-time dishwasher.”
The Skotheims have two grown children: Zachary and Kate who both live and work in Calgary.
Stuart said he'll be sad to see Skotheim go.
He said Skotheim’s firsthand public works knowledge really helped council understand public works issues. His legacy will be a list of public works contractors to call on in the future.
“I found him a good guy to work with,” Stuart said. “He pays attention to lots of little details.
“And his inter-relations with the county and the province have been really good. We had some lack of communication every once in a while, especially with the county doing our permitting – building permits and that kind of thing – so staying in contact with them is a real focus of the CAO and Greg has excelled at that.
“He’s very personable. A lot of CAOs, there’s that hard line between them and council.
“And as you know, the CAO is council’s only employee. And a lot of guys get very defensive. Greg, you could talk to him about anything, right? It was still his decision, but he didn’t mind chatting to you about it. Not to justify it or anything, but just to clarify it for you.
"He helped me understand a lot of things that I was misunderstood about, why the Town was doing certain things.
“Now he can go golfing and do whatever he wants.”