Talent worker dismissed over undisclosed 'personnel issue'

TALENT — A popular city worker's employment has ended over a personnel issue city officials won't discuss.

Assistant City Recorder Cheryl Nicolay was dismissed Feb. 17 after four months of paid and unpaid leave.

"I did not resign from the city of Talent on the recommendation of my attorney," said Nicolay, who declined to name the lawyer.

Nicolay had been executive assistant to City Manager Jay Henry and also assistant city recorder.

"It was just a personnel issue," Henry said. "Our city has a policy, we don't discuss personnel issues." He added he could not comment on why Nicolay had been on leave since Oct. 15.

Nicolay had been named the "Hardest Working City Employee" in both the 2009 and 2010 Best of Talent surveys published in the February issues of Talent News & Review. The annual listings are complied from survey information solicited from readers.

Nicolay's efforts as coordinator of the town's annual Harvest Festival and as editor of the city's newsletter, The Flash, were noted in the News & Review write-ups.

Online responses to a Feb. 12 Mail Tribune article on the city's centennial celebration this year noted that Nicolay was not mentioned, although she had played a major role in the planning since the event committee was formed in 2007.

More than a dozen online responses addressed Nicolay's role in the celebrations, her absence from City Hall or her involvement in city events.

"She and her husband both have volunteered many hours to the Talent Harvest Festival Committee," wrote Felicia Hazel, a Parks and Recreation Commission member. "Other volunteers were involved, but Cheryl has been the glue. It would be a huge loss for the city if Cheryl were no longer part of the heart."

Nicolay was employed as an administrative assistant for then City Manager Betty Wheeler beginning in August 2004. She became the executive assistant on Oct. 1, 2008. Henry became city manager in August 2008.

Nicolay also led other community/city events, including the annual Green-up, Clean-up Day in spring. She was chairwoman of the Safety Committee when the city received the League of Oregon Cities and City County Insurance Services Gold Safety Award in October 2008.

Recruitment is now underway for a position listed as assistant city recorder. Duties include serving as elections manager and public documents manager; providing administrative support to the city manager, mayor, City Council and department heads; and editing the city newsletter. Applications are due by 5 p.m. March 26.

"We have modified the job description. It will be more of a confidential management position," said Henry. He serves as city recorder as did his predecessor, Wheeler.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

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