Walkerton council discusses Frank Koebel's future

Walkerton town council to hold closed-door meeting to decide fate of former water foreman, Frank Koebel

Town councillors in Walkerton will hold a closed-door meeting Thursday evening to discuss the future of employee Frank Koebel, the ex-foreman of the town's now defunct public utilities commission.

Koebel, who ran the water utility with his brother, Stan, came under intense scrutiny after E.coli bacteria was discovered in the water supply in May, 2000. Seven people died and over 2,000 became ill from the contamination.

While Frank Koebel remains on the town's payroll, he has not been on the job since August 2000. He went on sick leave three months after the E.coli outbreak.

Now, according to a municipal official, the town wants to discuss "a personnel issue" involving Koebel.

Councillor Charlie Bagnato says he's bothered by the secrecy surrounding the meeting.

"It seems like we're always in the dark. They always want to kind of skim over these things. But I don't understand why they would want to call this meeting. We have another meeting in a week or so, a regular meeting. I don't see why they just couldn't wait, why this has to be done now," said Bagnato.

Some people are concerned that the reason could have to do with Koebel's brother, Stan who was the utility's manager. Earlier this year, Stan was given a $48,000 severance package despite incriminating testimony at the Walkerton public inquiry.

Frank Koebel admitted that he and his brother faked water safety records, and that sometimes there was drinking while on the job.

The possibility of a similar deal for Stan's brother Frank doesn't sit well with Bagnato.

But Bagnato says he believes council will end up paying Frank Koebel a severance, because he can't be fired while on long-term disability.