Pincher Creek’s top civil administrator will retire this spring, marking the end of an era at town hall.
Laurie Wilgosh, head of administration for the last 14 years, notified the mayor and council in September that she plans to step down after preparing a suitable replacement.
“It’s time to spend more time with my family,” he told Shootin’ the Breeze from behind his desk last Thursday.
Wilgosh would stay on until the end of the month, when she would be replaced by the city’s new CAO, Angie Lucas.
Wilgosh started with Town of Pincher Creek in 2008, when he was hired as director of corporate services. Within six months, he replaced outgoing CAO Fran Kornfeld.
Wilgosh has served as Cowley’s neighbor CAO for 20 years, but experience is no guarantee of longevity in the line of work.
It is the CAO’s job to manage the municipal administration while advising the council on the complex legislative requirements and industry best practices that define local government. It’s not easy setting civic priorities with the people who set them, and Wilgosh noted that CAO didn’t always plan their way out.
“If residents are dissatisfied with their service delivery, they will bring it up with the council and, sometimes, the board decides that the best way to meet those needs is to start over with a new person.”
As Mayor Don Anderberg wryly observes, “There are politics and aldermen, but administrators have to be great politicians without showing it.”
That Wilgosh thrived in his position for so long “speaks volumes about his abilities and the type of person he is,” he said Monday.
But Wilgosh was slow to trumpet his accomplishments, speaking instead of the sober, clipped statement of a veteran administrator.
“Things were a bit fragmented when I started,” he said, adding that he was proud to leave a strong and cohesive team.
He has led successful contract negotiations with CUPE 927, a local union representing some 25 town hall staff. He led the way during the pandemic, as his team was able to not only keep Pincher Creek running, but also open two new daycare facilities in the summer of 2020.
Wilgosh highlighted the city’s working relationship with the municipal district, remembering with fondness that the two councils partnered in the opening of the new Pincher Creek humane society on Kettles Street.
The only time he speaks without thinking is when he is asked what he misses most about his job.
“People,” he said. “I have a fantastic team.”
Angie Lucas started as interim CAO on Tuesday, making her first public appearance on the morning committee of the entire meeting. Lucas will assume full duty on February 1, with Wilgosh remaining as advisor until his last day on March 31.
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