By Scott Schmidt
Alberta Newspaper Group
Dave Matz has come home.
After more than 90 applications came in for the CAO position with the Town of Bow Island, the man to take the reins as top administrator was born and raised in the very place he now leads.
“It’s definitely a natural step in my career, and this is my hometown — I live close by, I grew up here and I’m very familiar with it,” said Matz, who started in his new role on Oct. 15. “I have no interest in leaving the area, so there are only so many opportunities to move up in these kind of positions, and this is a great one for me.”
Matz takes over from Anna-Marie Bridge, who is retiring but will stay on for a couple months to ensure a smooth transition.
Prior to his new job, Matz had spent the past 18 years with the County of Forty Mile, which he started working for in 1999 as a summer student while attending the University of Alberta to complete a certificate program on local government administration.
But once he started at the county he couldn’t tear himself away, and has spent the past 12 years as Forty Mile’s agricultural fieldman.
“I really enjoyed it there, it was a great place to work,” he said. “There are a lot of things about that job I’m going to really miss. I really enjoyed working for the County of Forty Mile; really good people there and it was a great job.
“The Agricultural fieldman job is probably one of the best jobs around.”
It also prepared him for the task ahead. That role he’s held for a dozen years entailed field responsibilities like weed control, parks maintenance and looking after cemeteries, but its real importance came from the administrative side.
“There are a lot of things we do outdoors, but it’s more than that — it’s managing the entire department,” Matz said of his last role. “I would look after budgets, I would set agendas for meetings and set policy for the department.
“It’s a good step up … I actually do know quite a few agricultural fieldmen that have moved on to CAO positions.”
Matz is extremely excited to come into the role at this time, as the town itself seems to be on a bit of an upswing, both developmentally and economically. For now though, his focus is going to be on getting his bearings at the town office.
“For me, in this position, it’s a lot of learning about how things are done here,” he said. “(Former CAO) Anna-Marie is helping with my transition, and she will be until the beginning of December.
“I have to learn (the town’s) policies and procedures; I’m also going to be the development officer and I’ll be responsible for the financial management. So there are quite a few specific things to (deal with.)”
Any big changes to town operations come from the direction of council, and Matz doesn’t anticipate anything crucial coming down the pipe before the start of 2019. The ease-in will help the new CAO get acclimated to his new position before he has to deal with anything overly concrete.
But while the job itself will take at least some getting used to, there is no place on earth Matz is more familiar with than Bow Island. It’s been a number of years since his high school days at St. Michael’s, but he’s always stayed close go home and couldn’t be more comfortable than he is now.
“I grew up here, I went to school here and my son is going to school here now, which is just down the street from the town office,” Matz said. “So, yeah, I’m very much interested in making sure this town is a success. I think it’s a great community.”
He has a permanent connection with his hometown and he couldn’t have dreamed of a better fit for himself, his career and his family. It also helps that he had great respect for the group of people he will now be answering to.
“One of the main reasons I wanted to come here was the fact I do know the council members, and I know it’s a very strong group. They’re all quite active members, and they all get along really well with each other, so that was definitely a drawing point for me.”