Big changes are in store for the top rungs of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent’s leadership ladder.
The general manager of engineering and infrastructure has departed, retired CAO Don Shropshire has an interim replacement, and the medical officer of health has stepped away in order to use up some of the vacation time he’s accumulated over the course of the two-year pandemic.
Mayor Darrin Canniff said Dr. David Colby worked for more than 700 days straight and is taking some much-needed time off.
“He’s on vacation right now,” Canniff said, adding the doctor hasn’t had a break in a “long, long time.”
Colby’s original retirement date is slated for the end of the year. While he is absent, Lambton County medical officer of health Dr. Sudit Ranade will lend a hand, covering off issues necessitating the expertise of a MOH.
Interim CAO Tony Haddad, who has been hired to fill Shropshire’s shoes until a permanent replacement can be found, said two long-term municipal employees are covering off the lead role overseeing engineering and infrastructure leadership role formerly held by Thomas Kelly.
Haddad said long-term employees Chris Thibert, manager of infrastructure, along with municipal planning director Ryan Jacques, will take turns covering off the general manager’s position.
“The position is being filled on a rotating basis,” Haddad said. “There was a decision to defer recruiting for the position until a new CAO arrives.”
Haddad said that from his observations, the municipality has a “strong executive team.”
Shropshire also continues to help Haddad on a part-time basis, lending a hand to help smooth the transition when a new CAO is found.
Mayor Darrin Canniff said he is not worried that municipal services will suffer, as there are many capable municipal employees to fill in temporarily.
Canniff said there are “a lot of competent people” that work under Colby and Shropshire, adding he’s not concerned.
The news was announced at the final press conference the municipality has held each week for the past two years to cover off the issues relating to COVID-19.
More than 100 meetings were held virtually each Thursday to communicate information about the pandemic to local reporters.
COVID-19 statistics in Chatham-Kent will now be released to the public on a weekly basis.
Officials said the weekly press scrums could return if circumstances warrant it.
Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice