Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Daria Anderson-Faden
The Observer 

County Addresses Personnel Matter

Grievance Hearing For Former Deputy Discussed


December 9, 2021

Daria Anderson Faden

The Kimball County Commissioners met in executive session behind this door Tuesday to discuss a personnel matter.

The Kimball County Commissioners ended their Dec. 7 meeting by entering into an executive session to discuss "imminent/potential litigation regarding personal matters." The executive session lasted 30 minutes, and the commissioners adjourned the meeting after they appointed Christy Warner the grievance hearing officer.

A laundry list of discussion items was addressed, including a yearly membership to the Heartland Express for $379.44, transferring $150,000 from the general fund to road fund as well as transferring the interest payment for the Welcome Center Bond Fund from the Visitors Improvement Fund. The items also included financing for the Kimball County Transit 2019 Chevrolet Express LT passenger van, which was approved.

No. 8 under the discussion items created a lengthy response from former sheriff's deputy Dave Hottell and his attorney, Jennifer Laughlin, during the public comment period. This was the item's description: "Discuss and approve the procedures for the grievance hearings pursuant to the County Employee Handbook." The Grievance Board Hearing Procedure that was approved at the meeting included 12 conditions.

Human Resource officer Christy Warner said, "In our HR handbook as part of the grievance hearing, we have never established any procedures on how to hold that hearing."

During the public comment period, Dave Hottell said, "I hope this grievance here is not trying to be put in place retroactive to go back for a grievance I requested six months ago. This grievance is different than what is put forth in the county policy handbook. The handbook, it clearly states an appeal of a corrective action to appeal the decision of the official within 10 calendar days."

Hottell continued, "I don't want to be denied the provisions that are set forth in the handbook in the grievance hearing that I requested to have. I still want to have the provisions at this time, not something retroactive to go back and change what was stated."

Hottell's attorney Laughlin finally said, "I don't think that anyone in this room probably is unaware of the fact that there are three employees who have filed a grievance under the original policy that Mr. Hottell has in front of him and what they are seeking is for basically a fair hearing to see if there were some injustice that was done to the policy manual itself, not to clarify what the policy manual means. But did the supervisor violate the policy manual as it's written."

The commissioners did not respond to either Hottell or his attorney.

Road Superintendent Randy Bymer gave his bimonthly update to the commissioners, although he stated that he didn't "have a whole lot." The county road employees have been grading and graveling. They are graveling rRoad 20, then will gravel parts of roads 25 and 27.

The road crew is working on a ditch north of town on Road 37, where the road is being cut into, and sand has washed out into the fields.

Commissioner Engstrom suggested that Bymer look at the north side of Road 57, where there is a "pretty deep" spot alongside the road which appears to be severe and in need of attention.

Bymer reported that the work on the missile roads south of Bushnell has been completed, some culverts were replaced, and others cleaned out.

At 10 a.m., a public hearing was held to receive comments for or against a conditional use permit application for indoor or outdoor recreation. The applicant was Dale W. Critchfield, Real Western Wings. The public hearing was closed at 10:07, and the conditional use permit was approved.

Providing an update on the High Point Welcome Center of Western Nebraska, Jessica Rocha, county tourism director, said that they were still busy at the facility south of town. The commissioners approved Hollman Media for a redesign of the Visitors Center website for $2,680 and $70 a month for hosting the site. Hollman Media was the lowest price of the three bids that were retained.

The commissioners tabled a quote of $3,128 from Bytes Managed IT for a monthly maintenance agreement. An network assessment had been completed last month.

And finally, the commissioners met with John Steuben, assistance regional director for USDA Wildlife Services via Zoom, to gain an understanding of the financial trouble that the USDA has been dealing with. The county is in the fourth year of a five-year program, and they are requesting that all the counties in the area help fund a 25% increase for the fifth year. The fifth year was projected to be $8,436, but due to budget deficiency, they are asking for an increase to $10,139.

The next county commissioner meeting will be Dec. 21, 2021.


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