Board approves Bellmer’s resignation
AINSWORTH — According to a press release issued today by the Washington County Conservation Department, the Washington County Conservation Board unanimously approved the resignation/termination of Bob Bellmer from his position as Washington County park ranger.
The release said that the board had reviewed all available information, including an assessment of the workplace environment, before making its decision during a special meeting Monday evening. The meeting consisted of a closed session with the conservation board and Washington County Attorney Larry Brock. After the session, the board voted to approve the resignation/termination of Bellmer. Bellmer was not present at the meeting. Conservation director Steve Anderson said that he is legally bound not to comment on the situation.
When asked about the ‘assessment of the workplace environment’ mentioned in the press release, Anderson said the board had hired an outside consultant after a Jan. 9 meeting to assess the working environment of the conservation department.
“The board took the public comments very seriously,” Anderson said. “They hired the consultant so they would be able to make a more informed decision.”
During the Jan. 9 meeting over 100 people filled the Conservation Education Center at Marr Park to question the situation with Bellmer. According to a statement made by board president Craig Capps, Anderson had been cited on Nov. 16, 2013 by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for two hunting violations. He paid the fines and the board had determined he would continue as conservation director. He then said a statement concerning a personnel matter – which is confidential — was turned over to legal counsel and the Washington County Human Resources coordinator on Nov. 18, 2013. On Dec. 30, 2013, Brock, human resources staff, Anderson and two board members met to discuss the personnel matter. Capps said that the information gathered was presented to Bellmer on Dec. 31 in the presence of legal counsel. Bellmer had filled out and signed a resignation. He later requested to be able to be reinstated as a park ranger. On Jan. 9, the board had recommended Anderson develop terms with Bellmer for a probationary period to possibly reinstate Bellmer.
Capps was out of town this morning and could not be reached for comment.
The Journal left a phone message at Bellmer’s residence, but he had not returned the call before press time.