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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Sun Valley administrator steps down

Wellman, Thorson reach ‘mutually agreeable decision’

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley City Administrator Jan Wellman stepped down from his post last week after less than one year in office.

Jan Wellman

Wellman and Mayor Jon Thorson agreed Friday, June 18, to exert a clause in Wellman’s employment contract that allows for "separation without cause." The provision essentially allows Wellman and the city to end the contract without being required to cite specific reasons.

The agreement became effective Friday, and Wellman is no longer employed by the city.

"It was a mutually agreeable decision," Wellman said Monday.

Thorson concurred, noting that Wellman’s service for the city was in no way being called into question.

"The separation was amicable," Thorson said. "He was perfectly comfortable … There was nothing unusual. Nothing inappropriate."

Wellman said the move was prompted in part by Thorson’s election to the mayor’s office last November. Thorson—who replaced former Mayor David Wilson at the beginning of 2004—indicated he would be a "full-time mayor" and intended to have a hands-on approach to managing City Hall.

Wellman said he and Thorson ultimately did not see eye to eye on the role of the city administrator.

"I just think he wanted to go a different way," Wellman said. "I think the mayor and I both saw that we had a different vision of what the position is."

Wellman noted that when he was hired by the city last August—when Wilson was in office—he was told clearly that as city administrator he would be the administrative head of the city and would be active in day-to-day government.

Thorson ultimately became a very "hands-on" mayor and showed a profound interest in helping to manage day-to-day affairs, Wellman said.

Thorson said the decision made Friday was not unexpected.

"There were expectations in the job that were disappointing to him," the mayor said.

Wellman noted that his departure is technically not a resignation. Indeed, no formal letter of resignation has been submitted to the city, or will be, Wellman said.

Wellman was hired last August and started work at City Hall last September. He worked previously as the city administrator of Veneta, Ore, a city of approximately 3,000 residents outside of Eugene.

In hiring Wellman, Sun Valley officials ended a five-month vacancy in the city administrator post, created when Dan Pincetich resigned in April 2003.

Wellman and the city agreed to a contract worth approximately $95,000 per year. The contract was set to last through 2007.

Wellman said a clause in his contract provides for him to receive six months severance pay if the contract was terminated without cause after June 1, 2004.

As a result of the agreement made, the remaining term of Wellman’s employment contract will be voided.

Wellman said he will likely spend the summer in the Wood River Valley before seeking another city administrator position, possibly in Oregon.

"My wife and I have really enjoyed living here," he said.

Thorson said he intends to hire another city administrator in the near future. He said he will seek to hire an administrator with a "vital interest in the community," who can help to ensure Sun Valley is developed and maintained as an attractive mountain resort.

"I’ve given myself a couple of months to do that," Thorson said.


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