West Hants postpones Tuesday's committee meeting due to 'internal issue'

Published on June 24, 2014
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West Hants council has postponed their regularly scheduled end-of-the-month committee of the whole meeting after news came to light involving their CAO.

In a statement issued on the municipality's website, the reason the June 24 meeting was postponed was due to “recent internal circumstances.”

Warden Richard Dauphinee, the spokesperson for council, told the Journal that he couldn't provide many details, but did confirm the postponement was due to CAO Cheryl Chislett taking a leave of absence.

“I just know that she's going to be off for an extended period of time,” said Dauphinee.

Chislett missed a budget meeting on Friday, June 20, due to a health-related issue.

“Friday, she was in emergency with a panic attack,” said Dauphinee.

“The last thing I ever dreamed of is the news I was going to get Saturday afternoon.”

Dauphinee would not elaborate on what that news was, but said the RCMP were looking into an alleged incident involving the CAO.

The local RCMP detachment has not yet responded to the Hants Journal's request for comment.

Dauphinee said Chislett's abrupt departure came as a surprise to staff at the municipal office.

“When you work that close to somebody, it really kicks you in the stomach because I'd still do anything for her and her family,” said Dauphinee.

He said the county's director of finance, Jerry Wood, and director of recreation, Kathy Kehoe, are jointly covering the chief administration officer's position until council can hire an interim CAO.

“Service Nova Scotia will have three names for me within the next couple days that do this under a contract basis,” said Dauphinee, noting council will then interview the three candidates and select one.

A special council meeting was already planned to be held Wednesday, June 25, at 9 a.m. to deal with a landfill contract. Dauphinee said he will give council an update on the CAO situation at that point in time.

The warden said he explained the situation to staff Monday morning, and they were quite supportive in doing what's necessary to keep things running smoothly, which included postponing the June 24 meeting.

However, the decision to postpone that meeting is not without its own controversy.

Social media sites, Facebook in particular, lit up after the decision to postpone the meeting was made public. It has upset some people who were planning on staging a peaceful demonstration in front of council chambers to protest the county's handling of the fire services issue with the Windsor Fire Department (WFD).

Unless a truce can be reached by June 30 at noon, the WFD will terminate service and the areas in the county the volunteer firefighting force currently covers will rely on the county's back up plan for emergency services.