VDGIF fires director
BY KEN PERROTTE
Date published: 12/1/2007
The Board of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries terminated J. Carlton Courter, III as the agency's director yesterday during a special meeting in Richmond.
The termination is effective immediately. Courter was given 30 days severance pay.
The department's Law Enforcement Division chief, Col. Mike Bise, will serve as the acting director until the position is filled.
Bise had earlier announced his intentions to retire, but agreed to remain on as acting director. Recruitment actions to replace Bise have been completed and an announcement related to the new top law enforcement officer may come as early as next week, according to board Chairman Jimmy Hazel.
Hazel said Courter's dismissal was "a personnel matter," and he declined to elaborate.
" I'm not going to go into a lot of details," Hazel said. "The board felt it was best for the agency to make a management change."
Courter, a Midlothian resident, had been hired in November 2006 to replace William Woodfin, who was asked to resign in May 2005 from the position following a state auditor's uncovering of fiscal and professional abuses. Woodfin was recently indicted by a grand jury on charges related to the audit.
Retired Virginia State Police Chief Gerald Massengill served as the acting director until Courter was hired.
Prior to his selection as VDGIF director, Courter had served as commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture since 1994. He previously worked for the Virginia Agribusiness Council for 13 years and served as its president from 1987 to 1994.
Department officials dismissed speculation regarding the termination being caused by any legal or ethical issues, instead indicating that expectations weren't being met in terms of departmental leadership.
A search for a new agency director is expected to begin immediately, with the goal of appointing a permanent director by Feb. 1, 2008.
Ken Perrotte: 540/374-5440