UPDATE: A flash on the report from earlier in the morning. Deputy Director Mike Knoedl has been chosen by the state Game and Fish Commission to be the agency's next director. If the rumors of divisions on the commission before the meeting were true, they came to a consensus choice. The official vote was unanimous.
Knoedl, 48, joined the agency as a wildlife officer in 1985. He was one of three deputy directors. The change of leadership will take effect Sunday. Here's Joe Mosby's report for Stephens Media.
Official news release is on the jump.
*****************I mentioned in print so I probably should mention here that the politicos who follow the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission expect the group to reach a decision this morning on a new director. The meeting begins at 10 a.m.
Director Loren Hitchcock, who got enmeshed in the heavy politicking that attends the customary efforts by the politically appointed commissioners to run things and an unhappy employee review of the agency and commissioner meddling, has announced plans to retire. Applications were taken and winnowed down.
Insiders think Deputy Director Michael Knoedl, who rose in the ranks through the enforcement division, has the inside track on the commission currently. But, surprise, some employees aren't happy about that. An anonymous letter has been circulating in the agency. Among less bitter characterizations, it notes Knoedl's academic record includes only a high school diploma and that he'd once sued the agency over pay practices. On a more subjective level, Knoedl's temperament and work habits are called into question.
As I observed in print, the constitutional amendment intended to separate Game and Fish from politics only instituted a different, and just as intense, form of politics.
My source says a rump effort is underway to support an extension of Hitchcock's tenure. I suspect somebody might write a letter about that, too.
GAME AND FISH RELEASE
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission today named almost 27-year veteran Mike Knoedl to serve as the agency’s director. Knoedl, who began his career with the AGFC in 1985, has served as the agency’s deputy director since 2011. Knoedl was selected with the support of all seven voting commissioners. He replaces Loren Hitchcock, who has announced his retirement.
“Mike is a great leader,” Commissioner Steve Cook said. “His experience leading our largest divisions will be invaluable as director. Mike will look for input and guidance from the great AGFC employees who have dedicated their lives to this agency. I expect great things from him. He’s the right person to lead us into the future.”
Knoedl began his AGFC career in 1985 as a Perry County wildlife officer. In 2008, he became chief of the Enforcement Division, a position he held until 2011.
“It’s a great honor to lead the intelligent, enthusiastic professional staff at our agency,” Knoedl said. “We are going to roll up our sleeves and go to work together as a team.”
Knoedl was chosen from three finalists for the AGFC director’s position. The Commission met with the three finalists for the director’s post late last month.
Knoedl was born and raised in Pulaski County. He graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Criminal Justice Institute. He is married to the former Lisa Darlington and has four grown children.