During the regular Wayne County Board of Supervisors meeting held on Feb. 25, employees from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department were present to voice their concerns and frustrations regarding the procedures for pay when the courthouse was closed. The severe winter weather created concern and the decision was made to close the courthouse for business on Jan. 30, along with delayed opening one day and an early closure on another. In all, the courthouse was closed for 14 hours during regular business time.
“We understand you have some observations about the emergency time off?” stated Supervisor Duffy Kester.
“Yes, first I would like to start off by thanking the board for giving us the opportunity to address this issue,” said Deputy Sheriff Mike Lewis. “My feelings are the way it is written in line item number three, I don’t feel this is fair in the way it was done with the rest of the county employees.”
“I guess in my opinion the only fair way to do that is during inclimate weather if there is a delayed opening or closure issue that any employee wanting compensated for their time off they should use their accrued vacation or have time off without pay, that way it is fair across the board.”
“We really didn’t change anything, we just made it more clear as far as the way it’s always been,” said Supervisor Tom Swearingin in response.
“I understand that, but we hadn’t said anything all these years and now it got brought back to light,” said Lewis. “We felt this way all along and felt now was the time to say something.”
“The position we were put in, we closed the courthouse and secondary roads took the day off and we thought it would be nice to give you guys something so we did,” said Swearingin. “We didn’t have to, but we did and we gave those that worked the pay.”
“Keith came back to us and he didn’t think it was fair that he had two people scheduled to have that day off and he thought they ought to get paid too,” Swearingin continued. “They weren’t even scheduled to work when we closed the courthouse, and he thought they should get paid too. His comment to us was “If they all don’t get paid then none of them get paid”.”
“I think you missed the context on what he meant there because I think he meant clear across the board,” said Lewis.
“No, he meant for your department,” answered Swearingin. “He said if two of my people don’t get paid then none of my people get paid.”
“Why should our people bust our butts to get to work and get regular pay, and these guys don’t go to work and nothing against these in the courthouse, but why should they not have to come to work and still get paid?” asked Linda Fain.
“It’s a 24-hour service,” said Swearingin.
“Well why should it quit at four o’clock, just because we don’t work in this building (courthouse) our pay quits at four o’clock when most of the storms happen at night?” Fain responded. “Story County has 14 inches of snow up there, they’re open right now. The interstates are closed, but they are open right now. I think everybody in the courthouse should make an effort to come to work.”
“Well we thought we was doing a nice thing,” Swearingin said.
“Nice for them but not nice for us,” said Fain.
“Well the three of us (Swearingin, Kester and David Dotts) have said it will be a cold day in hell before we close the courthouse again,” Swearingin responded.
“And if that’s the case this will all be a mute issue,” said Lewis.
“As far as you getting paid, that’s up to Keith, we don’t run the sheriff’s office we just set the policy,” Swearingin added. “If he wants to pay you, and it’s in his budget, then that’s up to him.”
“If you are an elected official have the authority to run your department however you see,” said Jack Reed, Human Resources consultant for Wayne County. “There is a little bit of difference there between elected official and department head.”
Secondary roads deparment have been working to fight the winter battle with keeping roads cleared as well as clearing ice jams from culverts.
A candidate for the vacant Wayne County Engineer position spent a day job shadowing current employees including Assistant Engineer Dan Carpenter.
“Did you get a feel he was still interested,” asked Kester.
“Yes, I feel like he is,” said Carpenter. “I feel like the logistics is going to be the biggest challenge that you would have to work out between you and him which we discussed somewhat in the first interview.”
Bonnie Friend was available to discuss the need for the board to appoint members to the REAP committee. It was decided a list of names would be put together.
Friend also suggested the need for hosting a countywide CPR class for Wayne County employees. It was decided they would contact Bill Byrns with EMC/E911 to get a date set up.
The board approved a liquor license for Emerald Hills Event Center.
Joella Perry discussed with the board her desire for the county to join Home Based Iowa for workforce. The supervisors made a motion and approved Perry to create an account on Home Based Iowa that will help connect veterans to careers and resources.