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West Carthage Housing Authority reinstates executive director who was fired

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WEST CARTHAGE — The Housing Authority board of directors reinstated Brian J. Wohnsiedler as executive director Tuesday night, one week after firing him.

The move came after Mayor Scott M. Burto visited the Housing Authority on Tuesday morning to say that the village Board of Trustees wanted Mr. Wohnsiedler rehired, according to Housing Authority board Chairman Dean P. Johnson.

Mr. Johnson, who supported terminating Mr. Wohnsiedler on April 2, saying “the board hasn’t been happy with the direction everything is going here,” told the Times on Tuesday that he has now resigned from the board and that Sarah J. Millard has resigned as housing manager.

Mr. Wohnsiedler, however, received support from several tenants, who told village officials in a meeting Saturday that he was removed unfairly and that the Housing Authority board had failed to listen to residents’ concerns.

“The village board was concerned about the information heard at the listening sessions and other comments about the living environment in the facility,” Mr. Burto said. “The board wanted to help make improvements based on the residents’ concerns.”

The mayor did not elaborate on changes, but said they involved employees.

Housing Authority board member Ronald J. Novak called a special meeting Tuesday evening to discuss reinstating Mr. Wohnsiedler. Present were Mr. Novak; Mr. Wohnsiedler; board members Todd C. Norrgard, Mary M. Britton and Thomas E. Stewart; and Michael Bigness, whom the mayor appointed to the board Monday. Mrs. Britton previously said she was resigning from the board but reconsidered in support of Mr. Wohnsiedler.

Mr. Norrgard’s motion “to reinstate Brian Wohnsiedler as executive director of the West Carthage Housing Authority as he was terminated with no cause” passed on a 4-1 vote, with Mr. Stewart opposed. Mr. Stewart resigned following the vote.

“I’m pleased with the outcome,” Mr. Wohnsiedler said. “It was an unfortunate situation. I don’t know what catalyzed it or why it moved forward and probably never will. I hope when people become involved in a board they understand the commitment and dedication.”

Last summer, the Lewis County Board of Legislators selected Mr. Wohnsiedler as county manager, but withdrew the appointment after questions arose about his previous employment as executive director of the Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District.

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