Rimoka residents discuss issues with board

  • Feb. 23, 2011 5:00 p.m.

By GEORGE BROWN

Tenants in Rimoka Housing Foundation residences in Ponoka had the chance to face board members at a special meeting Feb. 15 and air their concerns but they weren’t allowed to ask about the elephant in the room.

In between questions about building security, neighbours who smoke and dining room hygiene, some residents asked about the departure of long-time CAO Gerry Hildebrand who resigned in early January.

“I know a number of you have contacted management and would like to say something to the board,” chair Joe Anglin told the residents in his opening remarks.

“You can ask, but we’re not going to be able to provide you with any answers (regarding) issues of personnel.

“As you all know, our CAO resigned, we are in the process of interviewing and accepting resumés and applications for a new CAO, a new manager. And we hope to have one by the middle of March.”

Hildebrand resigned “of his own volition,” Anglin said, and beyond that he wouldn’t speak to rumours circulating in the community “because that just fuels the fire.” He did say no board member had a vendetta to remove Hildebrand.

“The issues were complex and they had something to do with probably near-term issues but there were long-term issues also.

“Gerry decided on his own to submit his resignation,” Anglin said. “He was not asked to resign and he was not fired or anything like that.”

Anglin acknowledged management and staff play an important role in the lives of residents and assured them the board of directors supports Rimoka Housing Foundation employees and has no intention of “micro-managing the managers.”

“If we lose confidence in the managers that’s a different story —but we haven’t.”

Lynn Gray, co-chair of the Family Resident Council, told the board that after a “cat and mouse game” had been played out in letters to the editor in the Ponoka News, the council wants to work with housing staff and make improvements in the activities available to residents and resolve some long-standing maintenance issues.

The council is also considering a merger with the residents association to “work together for the betterment of residents,” she explained. The two separate bodies are not working the way they should be.

Anglin said the two resident groups will be left to decide their fate and the Rimoka board of directors will support that decision.

One resident asked the board to provide residents with a copy of Rimoka’s audited financial statements. Previous requests fell on deaf ears.

Anglin said the foundation’s books are now being audited and once approved by the board, they will be distributed to residents. “We’re not going to deny that to you.”

Board member Gawney Hinkley lightened the mood in the room by declaring it was important to him that Rimoka residents get the best care possible — “because I will be joining you soon.”

Anglin confirmed for residents that the board’s goal is to make sure that residents have a good quality of life while living in Rimoka’s variety of housing styles. “We’re always seeking ways to try to improve it.”

The Rimoka Housing Foundation is financially supported in part by the Town of Rimbey, Town of Ponoka and Ponoka County to operate seniors housing and supportive living units in their communities. The board chairman is Rimbey Coun. Joe Anglin and vice-chair is Ponoka Coun. John Jacobs. Other members are Ponoka County councillors Gawney Hinkley and Keith Beebe, Ponoka Mayor Larry Henkelman, Rimbey Coun. Jack Webb, and Ponoka Legion representative Dave MacPherson.