CREMONA - Rudy Friesen, the Village of Cremona’s new chief administrative officer (CAO), is on the job and looking forward to helping the municipality move forward.
Replacing past CAO Aaron Gertzen, Friesen started in the top administrative position on March 10.
Originally from Saskatchewan, Friesen got his start in broadcast journalism.
Working in radio for six and a half years, he often came in contact with non-profit agriculture organizations, “Which led me to the exhibition industry, where I started as the manager of agriculture programs at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon.”
That work, in turn, eventually brought him to Alberta.
“I spent 18 years as the CEO at Exhibition Park Lethbridge,” he said. “I managed one of Alberta’s so-called regional exhibitions. Exhibitions are by and large event organizations but we also had very close ties to the municipality there and the City of Lethbridge and we worked closely with them.
“So (becoming Cremona CAO) was a good progression for me in terms of that background and experience. It is a great opportunity to do something that I really enjoy.”
Friesen’s wife, Tracy Gardner, is the manager Olds Regional Exhibition. They have lived in Mountain View County for several years.
“We have very important ties in the area,” he said. “My wife is actually from here; her family has been here for a number of decades. We’ve had a residence north of Cremona for more than five years and I was actually commuting to Lethbridge for work.”
A month into the job in Cremona, Friesen says working with the local councillors has already turned out well.
“It’s great to have that knowledge around the table and to have that experience,” he said.
As CAO of the municipality, Friesen is in charge of all other staff members. He says he will be relying on their experience.
“I’m one of five full-time employees,” he said. “We have some good experience around here. It’s a great place to work here for sure.”
Asked if he’s seen any challenges so far, he said, “No, I wouldn’t call it a challenge, but as you prepare yourself for opportunities for growth it takes a lot pre-planning, so that needs to be undertaken. It’s all part of the process.
“The only observation is that in a community that is a little bit smaller, like Cremona, you have less hands to do that work so it takes a little bit more time to get positioned for those opportunities.”
Looking forward, he says he sees good things for Cremona.
“It’s a fantastic place and a beautiful location,” he said. “There is lots of opportunity here.”