Shakeup at Clarkfield Care Center, city council

The Clarkfield City Council was notified at its regular meeting March 19 that the administrator of the city-owned Clarkfield Care Center had been terminated, and a city council member employed by the care center was ineligible to sit on the council.

Carol Kvidt, regional director of the management company Ecumen, delivered the news to the council as part of the Care Center’s monthly report, usually delivered by the administrator.

Ecumen is under contract to manage the care center for the city of Clarkfield and is currently in negotiations with the city for a new management contract. Ecumen cited confidentiality as to its reasons for terminating administrator Paul Luitjens’ employment and said a temporary administrator will manage the center for the next three to four months while a replacement is found.

“It’s Ecumen’s decision,” said Clarkfield City Administrator Scott Weske. “The contract reads the administrator is their employee and they can hire and fire him.”

However, after Clarkfield City Attorney Dave Gilbertson was asked to re-examine the contract it was determined all other employees of the center are city employees,

City councilperson Erin Crosby, elected to the city council as a write-in candidate, works for the center.

“After I did a reading of the contract I determined management was not really a buffer between the city and the care center,” Gilbertson said.

According to Weske, the council will accept Crosby’s resignation and pass a motion to announce a vacancy on the council. The four sitting members will then vote to chose a new member from among the applicants. If there is a tie, the mayor may appoint a councilperson at his discretion from among the applicants or anyone he finds qualified. The selected council member will hold the seat until the next general election, about a year and nine months from now.