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Wallen to stay as Grant County PUD chief executive officer

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | May 22, 2024 1:20 AM

EPHRATA — Grant County PUD General Manager Rich Wallen will stay in that position, rather than resigning to take a job with the Chelan County PUD. Utility district commissioners announced Wallen would be staying during a workshop Tuesday, followed by a statement from Commissioner Terry Pyle warning against listening to rumors.

Commission Chair Tom Flint announced Wallen would remain as GM while saying he wanted to let people know where the commission stood.

“As you know, there has been quite a bit of rumor and misinformation floating around the district,” Flint said. “The commission would like to clarify some of that. The commission has never asked Rich Wallen to resign.”

Wallen has the support of all commissioners, he said.

“So wherever that came from, it needs to die, and it needs to die now,” Flint added. 

Wallen submitted his resignation May 7, effective June 14. In the announcement, Wallen said he would be leaving to take the job of chief operating officer with the Chelan PUD.

Pyle said Wallen has led the PUD through a lot of changes, and that commissioners are satisfied with the job he’s done. 

“He has been a positive force for opportunity and growth in virtually every area of the district,” Pyle said.

He too denied that commissioners had asked for Wallen’s resignation

“His removal has never been a topic of discussion or considered by us,” Pyle said. “He has our full support.” 

He used what he called a “mixed Navy metaphor” to explain the commission’s position.

“We are at a crossroads; the board of commissioners has asked Rich to steer our ship,” Pyle said. “We are asking you to get on board. Everyone at (Grant County PUD) either needs to get in the boat with us or start finding a life jacket.’

Commissioners were concerned, Pyle said, about the spread of gossip and rumors. 

“There has been a lot of useless noise happening in and around the district,” he said, and commissioners wanted it to end. Pyle said workers would be encouraged to continue voicing their concerns, and that rumors are part of every workplace. 

“There are surely problems that need to be faced and corrected. We are asking that those corrections be identified and handled directly and appropriately,” Pyle said. 

Any complaints that are received are investigated, he said, and that will not change. 

“No exceptions to that policy have been made or will be made in the future,” he said. 

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.

    Grant County PUD commission chair Tom Flint, center, makes a statement during a PUD workshop Tuesday, while commissioners Terry Pyle, left, and Larry Schaapman, right, listen.
 
 
    Grant County PUD Commissioner Terry Pyle reads a statement from the commissioners during Tuesday’s workshop.