AVILLA — Meeting in special session Tuesday, the Avilla Town Council unanimously voted to hire Tena Woenker as its new town manager.
Woenker, who currently is the town manager in Albion, will be replacing Bill Ley who is retiring. Woenker’s first day will be July 6.
Woenker had served as the town manager for Waterloo from March 2014 through December 2019 when she took the Albion job vacated by Stefen Wynn, who left for a similar job in Florida.
The Albion Town Council, which met in regular session Tuesday, accepted Woenker’s resignation and set an executive session for June 14 to begin its search for a new town manager and to discuss what to do in the interim. Woenker’s last day in Albion will be June 30.
“I am sorry to see her go,” Albion Town Council president Vicki Jellison said, then turned to Woenker. “But you have to do what’s best for you.”
“I’ve really enjoyed working with the department heads here,” Woenker said, then addressed the council. “Thank you for the opportunity to work here the last 18 months.”
Woneker told the council she had received permission from the Avilla Town Council to assist Albion in the transition, working after her normal working hours in Avilla or during lunch breaks to help answer questions or train her replacement.
“We really appreciate your willingness to do that,” Councilman Don Shultz said.
Woenker said the focus of the town manager position differs between the two communities. In Albion, she is the direct supervisor to all department heads and manages many of the day-to-day operations of the town.
“In Avilla, it’s more of a project manager, a grant writer, a leader,” she said.
That big picture approach fits her skill set better, she said.
Avilla Town Council president Paul Shepherd said Woenker’s work history was important in the council’s decision.
“There’s a lot of stuff going on here,” Shepherd said. “Experience was a big factor. We have a lot of projects that are in process.”
Among other projects, the town of Avilla recently received word it needed more than $2.3 million in improvements to its aging wastewater treatment plant and received an estimate of more than $1 million to expand its fire station. The town is also revitalizing its downtown and working to finish off its new industrial park east of town.
Woenker said she was eager to tackle big-picture projects in Avilla, but was sad she wouldn’t be able to see some Albion projects to fruition. After a year of isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic, Albion was emerging a stronger community.
“Things are starting to come around,” Woenker said. “Behind the scenes, there are a lot of great things happening.”