Group continues fight
For over 10 years, Mike and Deb Williams have camped at Marr Park and during that time they got to know Park Ranger Bob Bellmer very well.
Today, Deb Williams said that she remembers seeing Bellmer going up to every campsite to make sure people were having fun on their camping adventure. She remembers how they had become fast friends as Bellmer took time to visit with the guests at Marr Park.
“He was not like a park ranger,” Williams said. “It was like having a member of the family coming to your campsite.”
She said that when she learned Bellmer had lost his job with the county, she wanted to do something to help him. To that end, she and Mike Williams held a meeting Sunday to try to enlist help to have Bellmer rehired.
About 10 people gathered in the couple’s heated garage to plan to continue doing all they can to help Bellmer get his job back. Williams said several members of the group Free County attended the meeting. The group is circulating petitions to have conservation director Steve Anderson terminated.
“Nobody believes Bob (Bellmer) being terminated right after Steve Anderson was cited by the DNR is a coincidence,” she said.
In November, Anderson was cited by the Department of Natural Resources for two hunting violations. In an interview, Bellmer said that he had nothing to do with Anderson being cited and was on vacation at the time.
“Steve thinks Bob turned him in,” Williams said. “Bob was interviewed about the situation and answered honestly. Steve didn’t like that.”
The group has also set up a fund at the Washington State Bank to help Bellmer. Williams said that Bellmer has told her that he intends to continue fighting to get his job back. Williams said there would be another meeting on Feb. 22 in at her home at 925 E. Third St. for Bellmer’s supporters.
During a Jan. 9 conservation board meeting, it was reported that on Dec. 30, 2013, Anderson, Washington County Attorney Larry Brock, human resources staff and two board members had met to review and discuss all of the information dealing with a personnel matter, which is confidential. The people present determined there was enough evidence to require Bellmer to resign or be terminated. In a prepared statement to over 100 people who attended the conservation meeting, president Craig Capps said that on Dec. 31, 2013, the options were presented to Bellmer. At the time Bellmer had filled out and signed a resignation statement and left Marr Park.
Bellmer said the allegations against him included gaining compensation time without supervisor approval and time sheet issues, which he said involved him working through lunch. According to the law, workers are required to take a lunch break. He said the other allegation was the theft of gasoline in February 2013. He said that all the people in the conservation department had at some time given a mixture of gas and diesel fuel used to burn brush to county people to help them remove brush. He said that there were times that torches used for burning brush were loaned out.
Bellmer said during the meeting, he had been told he needed to resign or he would be fired. He said he resigned and, after talking to a lawyer, he pulled his resignation and “forced them to fire me.” He said that during the Jan. 9 meeting, the conservation board had recommended that Anderson develop terms of a probationary period with Bellmer. Bellmer said that he had never returned to work. During a meeting on Jan. 27, the conservation board unanimously acknowledged Bellmer’s resignation/termination. The board includes Capps, Lyle Moen, Liz Kaufman, Barb Donkersloot, and Bill Nickell.
Capps has said that Bellmer’s termination had nothing to do with Anderson being cited.
Williams said that she plans to continue working for as long as is needed to help Bellmer get his job back. She said that she plans to speak at the conservation board meeting that will be held at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Conservation Education Center.
“(Bellmer) has no plans to back off and neither do we,” Williams said. “We will continue to support him and fight to have Steve Anderson terminated.”