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Parks board approves swim coach’s termination

Termination of the head swim coach for the North Whidbey Aquatic Club was made official Monday night.

The North Whidbey Parks and Recreation commissioners held a second special meeting to make a final decision on whether to accept the suggestion by Executive Director Gino Wolfe to terminate head coach Bill Patterson’s contract.

Two of the  three commissioners voted to approve Patterson’s termination.

Commissioner Sean Merrill did not attend the meeting, but sent in his vote to Chairman Allan McDougall, who did not vote in the issue.

Merrill, along with David Walton, voted to terminate the contract.

Steve Hoffmire voted to keep Patterson as the swim coach.

“I would have liked to, I think, go a little more systematically through, looking at different things,” Hoffmire said.

“I wasn’t quite ready to give up on Coach Bill.”

Walton, however, said he believes that Wolfe’s proposal to terminate the coaching contract was made for the right reasons.

“I believe the director looked at the performance of the team, the team’s potential and where the team was headed,” Walton said. “As an at-will employee, the contract does allow the director … to terminate the coach without cause, and I believe that that was exercised.”

Walton said he believes the termination was suggested based only on the swim team’s performance, and not any personal reasons.

McDougall said that the parks board commission handled the issue properly and plans to give Patterson 30 days of severance pay as per the contract.

“We’re trying to play this really clearly, but we all like him,” McDougall said. “It’s hard when it’s a friend.”

According to McDougall, Patterson lacked many qualifications for the job as head coach when he was hired, but did a good job trying to build up the team. Ultimately, McDougall said Patterson just lacked the experience to make it work.

He said that the attendance and participation levels dropping throughout Patterson’s time as coach had a lot to do with the decision.

“It’s strictly that type of level one has to deal with when it’s a public program,” McDougall said.

Both McDougall and Hoffmire have been in contact with Patterson since Wolfe suggested the termination, and both got the impression that Patterson would not have returned to the job had the proposal been rejected.

“I honestly think he was ready to move on at this point,” Hoffmire said. “That’s where I think he is as a person.”

Patterson could not be reached by press time Tuesday for comment.

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