City offers wellness center manager job to local candidate
Holly Weller did not accept the wellness center manager job the council offered her Feb. 18.
"The candidate that was offered the position has declined, so the council needs to discuss what is Plan B," city administrator Brad Swenson wrote in an email. The council has scheduled a special meeting for Monday at 4 p.m.
A split Wadena City Council offered the wellness center manager job to an events coordinator at Tri-County Health Care.
In a 3-2 vote Feb. 18, council members selected Holly Weller, who is also executive assistant to the TCHC president, over Eric Robb, a former manager of similar centers in Ada and Roseau. The two emerged as finalists following a second round of interviews with four candidates.
According to the official job description, the manager is “responsible for planning, managing, maintaining and monitoring all activities at the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center,” a city owned and operated facility scheduled to open in October. The manager will be considered a department head and will report to the council and city administrator Brad Swenson.
As of press time, Weller hadn’t accepted the offer or proposed a counter offer. Reached by phone last week, she said she wasn’t ready to comment publicly.
Council member Gillette Kempf initiated the discussion portion of the special meeting after Swenson presented the results of background and reference checks on both finalists.
“I think we’ve got a good candidate any way we go,” Kempf said.
Most council members voiced agreement with Mayor Wayne Wolden when he said he wished “we could have them both.”
Differences of opinion quickly emerged. With one candidate experienced in marketing and the other in operations, the decision came down to which skill set each council member believed is most important to launch a successful facility.
“They are pretty much opposites of each other,” council member Jeanette Baymler said of the two finalists.
Wolden called Weller “a born marketer” with outstanding management and organizational skills.
Council member Toby Pierce sided with Robb, who he said was well positioned for success having previously managed efficient wellness center operations in two other cities. “To me experience is worth a ton,” Pierce said. “He’s done it; he knows what it’s all about.”
While people can learn how to operate a facility, “You can’t teach personality,” said council member Brian Hillesland. Weller, he said, has a vibrant personality and that will help get people in the wellness center doors.
Kempf said Weller “is hungry to learn.”
Pierce replied: “That’s wonderful. Let her learn somewhere else, not at our expense.”
At the end of the discussion, Pierce made a motion to hire Robb. Baymler seconded, but it failed 2-3 in a voice vote. Moments later, the council offered the job to Weller, with Pierce and Baymler casting no votes.