BEMIDJI -- The Beltrami County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to enter into a contract agreement with Thomas Barry to be the next county administrator.

Barry was one of five finalists that had been narrowed down by county officials, with assistance from the firm David Drown Associates Co. to assist with the search. Most recently, Barry was the Chief Executive Officer and City Manager of Minot, N.D.

However, according to the Minot Daily News and KFYRTV News, in April 2020 the Minot City Council voted unanimously to fire Barry. Both news outlets reported that the move was based on a report released regarding accusations that created a hostile work environment.

The report, compiled by special investigator Patricia Monson, a Fargo attorney, went back to 2017. The Minot Daily News reported Monson concluded in the report that "there is little, if anything, to salvage of the working relationship between the city manager and many of the department heads he supervises. The only appropriate resolution of the inhospitable work environment created by the city manager is his removal from the position of city manager."

Before his employment in Minot, Barry worked as the director of public works and utilities for Meridian, Idaho. He holds a bachelor of science, and masters degrees in business administration and public administration.

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In the agreement approved by the commissioners Tuesday, Barry will have a salary of $125,757.

The current administrator, Kay Mack, announced her retirement in May and is working reduced hours as she gets closer to exiting the position. A BSU graduate, Mack has been with the county since 1977. In 1986, she became county treasurer and stayed in the role as it merged with the auditor position. Mack then became administrator in 2012.

Other finalists for the administrator position were:

  • Mitchell Berg, the Mahnomen city administrator, as well as instructor at BSU, Minnesota State Community and Technical College and White Earth Tribal College.
  • Mille Lacs County Administrator Pat Oman.
  • Blackduck City Administrator Christina Regas.
  • Beltrami County Director of Health and Human Services Rebecca Secore.

This story will be updated.