MCEDA fires Goodale

Bill Goodale, executive director of the Mohave County Economic Development Authority since December 2000, lost his job last week, two months after MCEDA lost its major funding source.

The MCEDA board voted July 26 to fire Goodale effective Tuesday.

The dismissal leaves MCEDA with only one employee: secretary Arbutus Atwood.

MCEDA had a four-year contract with Mohave County government to recruit industries paying at last $10 an hour, but the county supervisors voted June 18 to terminate the contract effective July 1.

Supervisors Pete Byers and Tom Sockwell criticized the track record and business practices of MCEDA, which received $189,200 from the county for the fiscal year ending June 30.

A press release issued by MCEDA President Bert Berschauer Tuesday makes no reference to the supervisors' decision.

"An internal restructuring is necessary for the continuation of our basic mission; that is the recruiting of business and industry to Mohave County," Berschauer wrote.

Berschauer, who became president in July after Henry Varga stepped down, said the loss of funding was the primary reason for firing Goodale, who earned $50,000 a year.

"We are looking six to nine months before we put a person back in that position," Berschauer said.

"I would consider (Goodale) as a candidate certainly."

Goodale declined comment.

"I don't have any plans right now that I can announce," he said.

Byers, who served with Goodale on the Kingman Planning and Zoning Commission, could not be reached for comment.

Sockwell declined to comment on Goodale's departure, saying, "That's a MCEDA thing, and I don't want to get involved in any controversy going on there."

Supervisor Buster Johnson, who voted against terminating the contract, said he is sorry to see Goodale leave.

"I guess I was a little surprised," he said.

"I expected (them) to have the money to continue the funding of MCEDA, and with this move, obviously, that won't happen."

Johnson said Goodale continued to meet with business prospects even after MCEDA lost county funding.

Referring to Goodale's predecessor, Don Van Brunt, Johnson said, "With Goodale at the helm, we did not have the controversy that surrounded MCEDA in the past."

The MCEDA board accepted Van Brunt's resignation in January 2000 shortly after local media reported that Van Brunt pleaded guilty to felony counterfeiting in 1982 in Orange County, Calif.

Van Brunt alienated many area residents with his recruitment of controversial industries such as power plants and a private prison.

The board named Goodale, then assistant director, acting director and promoted him to executive director in December 2000 following a nationwide recruitment campaign.

Goodale's departure marks the second time in three decades that he has lost a high-profile job.

Following an election in 1976, the county supervisors fired Goodale from his job as planning director – a position that he had held since 1973 – and ousted other department heads.

After leaving his planning job, he went to work for his father-in-law - retired auto dealer Ellis Rucker - and then sold insurance.

He joined MCEDA part time in 1994 while selling insurance and became full time in 1996.

While Goodale is gone, MCEDA will continue to provide information to business and industry, Berschauer stated in the press release.

"We will also continue our vision to develop a strategic plan for economic development for Mohave County," he said.

Berschauer, who joined the former Kingman Elementary School District as director of technology after retiring from a 30-year career with IBM, said he and other board members will volunteer their time at MCEDA's office.