Former county park ranger Bob Bellmer attended the Washington County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday morning. On the agenda for the meeting was a personnel change request from Washington County Conservation. When the personnel change request came before the board, Supervisor Richard Young started the discussion.
“First of all, I need to know why we have to do this when we’ve been told as a board we have nothing to do with the conservation board,” Young said. “If that is true, then why does this board have to approve this, because we know nothing about the facts, what went on or anything. For me to make a good decision on this, I need facts. So until I get facts, I’ll tell you right now, I’m not voting on this. If we’ve got to make some kind of decision as a board of supervisors, we need to be informed what’s going on.”
Supervisor Bob Yoder agreed with Young.
“It would be nice to know what all went on here, what are the facts,” Yoder said. “All supervisors are basically in the dark. We don’t know. Here we’re asked to vote on something aye or nay. We don’t know what all went on here. It’s very disappointing to me.”
Supervisor Jack Seward Jr. responded, “I’m going to put a little different spin on what a personnel change request is.”
He explained that a report of personnel change comes before the board of supervisors when employees are hired or terminated, or if they change from full time, regular part time or casual part time.
“This report of personnel change we deal with is an acknowledgment of the status of that employee,” Seward said. “It’s not, as far as I’m concerned, an acknowledgment that we support the action or don’t support the action — it’s just an acknowledgment of fact and the fact is, as of the date listed here, the auditor’s office is no longer authorized to pay any salary or benefits to Bob Bellmer.”
Seward said he agrees with Young.
“There are aspects of what happened to Bob Bellmer that are up in the air,” he said.
He also said that the only control the supervisors have over the conservation board is when the supervisors appoint someone to the board.
“It is my understanding, and Larry (Brock), you can correct me if I’m wrong, if we are going to remove somebody from the board we have appointed, it has to be for cause and we have to have a public hearing to present that cause.”
Seward also said he would like to consider fresh candidates for the conservation board.
County attorney Larry Brock concurred with Seward that the supervisors were not approving Bellmer’s termination, but acknowledging the change.
During the discussion, Bellmer asked if he could speak to the supervisors.
Supervisor and board chairman Steve Davis asked Brock if he could allow Bellmer to speak.
“The only reservation is if Mr. Bellmer wants to make a public statement, I think he’s opening up the cause behind his termination,” Brock said. “As far as I understand he’s wanted to handle it at a closed session up to this point.”
Seward asked Davis to allow Bellmer a few minutes to make his statement.
Brock said that if Davis allowed Bellmer to talk, Bellmer’s remarks should be limited to the acknowledgment of the personnel change.
“I just wanted you guys to hear my side,” Bellmer said. “I can tell you certain stuff, but I can’t tell you the closed session stuff, but I can tell you what actually was the accusations. “
Davis decided not to let Bellmer speak during the meeting, but he also said Bellmer could speak to the supervisors individually.
“OK, I’ll do it individually,” Bellmer said.
Young said he would vote no on the motion to acknowledge the personnel change request.
“I don’t understand this process until someone educates me on this whole process,” he said.
He and Yoder voted against the motion, but the motion carried on a 3-to-2 vote.