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W’bago down to one for chief job

By Staff | Apr 13, 2014

The field has been narrowed.

The Winnebago City Council has been searching for a replacement for the police chief position for quite some time now.

Finally, at their meeting last Tuesday, city administrator Chris Ziegler announced the city would be moving into round two of interviewing applicants.

However, the number of finalists was fewer than the council had hoped.

“We were hoping to do second interviews as a full council with two finalists,”?Ziegler explains. “But we will only have one.”

Eric Olson, the only applicant who will return for an interview, is from Soudan, a town in northern Minnesota.

Ziegler spoke with Olson who was excited to return for a second interview.

“But, just because we only have one finalist the council shouldn’t be obligated to hire him,” Ziegler says. “I want to make it clear that the council still has full discretion.”

The council discussed when the second interview should take place. Ziegler had multiple dates of when Olson would be available one of those was Friday, April 11.

“I think it’s high time we get going on this,”?council member Scott Robertson says. “We owe it to our department.”

The rest of the council agreed. However, since the interview will be conducted in an open meeting setting, the date would have to be posted for three days.

After little discussion, the council came to the consensus that sooner is better and set the second interview for Friday.

The interview was scheduled for 5 p.m. on Friday and took place after the Faribault County Register’s deadline. Details from the special meeting will be in the next issue of the Register.

Former chief of police Bob Toland has been assisting in the search for a replacement. Toland was present at the meeting last Tuesday.

“My suggestion is to get Olson here early in the day,” Toland says.

Toland thought it would be helpful to the interview process to prepare Olson beforehand by showing him the area and introducing him to city and county staff.

“That way when he’s being interviewed he’s not talking in generalities,”?Toland says.

During the regular meeting, the council also discussed the hire of a part-time police officer.

“We’ve been running shorthanded for more than a month,”?Ziegler says.

The council had planned to wait until there was a chief in place before bringing on additional staff.

“However, that has taken longer than expected,” Ziegler adds.

The council approved the hire of Briar Bonin contingent on passing background and psychological tests.

“He won’t be able to work full time but will be able to fill in when needed,”?Ziegler says.