Town hall takes on new staff

Harvey Harris stands next to the photo of himself with the rest of town council in the 1980s in Hay River's town hall. Harris has taken over the long-vacant position of director of finance for the municipality. Photo by Sarah Ladik NNSL

Harvey Harris stands next to the photo of himself with the rest of town council in the 1980s in Hay River’s town hall. Harris has taken over the long-vacant position of director of finance for the municipality.
Photo by Sarah Ladik
NNSL

Hay River’s municipal administration has just added two newcomers to its ranks – a director of public works and a director of finance.

“We just want the right people for these positions,” Mayor Andrew Cassidy told The Hub. “The best case scenario is to hire local and we’ve been fortunate enough to do that here.”

But the new director of finance, Harvey Harris, is no stranger to the halls of municipal government. He served as a councillor in the 1980s and said he is pleased and excited to be back after serving in the same position in Fort Smith since 2011.

“I’m very happy to be here,” he said. “I thought it would be a challenge for me and that it would improve the scope of my work.”

Harris spoke fondly of playing hockey in Hay River, though lamented his current abilities. He said he had enjoyed Hay River very much during his previous tenure as CEO of H.H. Williams Hospital and is looking forward to being back.

“Right now, I’m going through a lot of the town’s financial information,” he said, adding that much of the work involved transferring the data from excel files to an integrated accounting system to allow
for better tracking.

“Every day here is a new thing for me and I like that,” Harris said.

Todd Pittman, the new director of public works, will be starting May 5. He will be reprising the role he previously held after spending time working for the Northwest Territories Power Corp.

Cassidy said he is somewhat relieved by the new hires, and hopes they will “be here for the long haul.”

“We haven’t had a director of finance in three years,” he said. “This is really good. It will take the pressure off the current directors who have been doing everything they can to cover all departments.”

Cassidy said hiring local people is ideal but, often difficult, as technical and professional requirements for management positions grow more stringent.
Pittman is an engineer who has run the department before, while Harris not only knows Hay River, but has experience in the position in a community of comparable size.

“The level of skill needed for a position can be difficult to find.

“This is the best case scenario – we have people with the skills and qualifications, who have lived here and want to keep living here … that’s not easy to find,” said Cassidy.

-Sarah Ladik