Vacant CAO position finally filled

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For three decades Dale Harrison occasionally cruised through Longview, often stopping for beef jerky, but he never imagined he’d one day take up the top job in the village’s administration.

Harrison would make his way through Longview on route to Calgary when he was living in Cranbrook or to visit friends and family in Cranbrook while living in northern Alberta or Saskatchewan.

Two years ago Harrison moved to Black Diamond and is now Longview’s chief administrative officer (CAO).

Harrison brings with him experience as a CAO in Nampa and Fairview and an economic development officer in Cold Lake and the then MD of Big Lakes.

“I’ve been in municipal government on and off for about 12 years,” he said. “I was recruited from an economic development position by an oil company that was working in the Peace Country area. I had a relationship with them trying to site a project for them in the MD while I was on a one year contact with the MD.”

Since beginning his duties on Feb. 14, Harrison has kept busy with budgeting and learning the village’s operations. He works four days a week.

“Every time you move into a municipality it’s a steep learning curve,” she said. “With any job, until you’ve done a full cycle, everything is new.”

Harrison replaces former Longview CAO Vicky McGonigle, who was fired by council in November for reasons that weren’t made public.

He first applied for the position two years ago when he was working for an oil company, but didn’t get the job.

He had recently moved to Black Diamond.

“I didn’t want to live in the city so we looked for places in the outskirts,” he said.

A few months later Harrison became a casualty of the oil prices and was laid off.

He applied for various municipal government positions and was happy to see another CAO posting for Longview in January.

Harrison said the move made sense because his children live in Cranbrook and the Calgary area.

“Longview is a good fit,” he said. “It’s 12 minutes from my house to the office.

“My wife and I enjoy the country. We enjoy the closeness of the mountains and the fact that in 10 minutes you can be enjoying the wilderness.”

Harrison has spent his first weeks in Longview drawing up the Village budget. When the budget process is complete, Harrison looks forward to looking at the details of the village’s operations and coming up with efficiencies.

Harrison said he also looks forward to meeting more residents in the community.

“I operate on an open-door policy,” he said. “If people have got ideas or concerns, it’s my job to hear them and try to figure out whether there is validity to them and look for solutions. I’m looking forward to sifting through and getting down to the foundation of what things are and see what we can build from there.”

Harrison has been getting a taste for the village.

“One thing I’ve enjoyed is eating out here,” he said. “There’s good food in Longview.”

Harrison said the local restaurants and shops are a great economic draw to the village with the famed Longview Steakhouse, Longview beef jerky and other restaurants and shops providing quality items.

“In every community you have to develop a strategy that’s tailor made for what you’ve got for assets,” he said. “Sometimes it’s people, sometimes it’s scenery and sometimes it’s the businesses you have in town. That’s where I’m seeing an obvious strength to the community.”

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