Stone suggests changes to avoid conflict

Alexis Barker


Deputy County Attorney Jeani Stone wants to help Weston County commissioners address several areas where she says it is lacking. These include human relations, public relations, policies and procedures and board training. During the Feb. 15 meeting of the Weston County Commission, Stone asked the commissioners to discuss issues she has seen over her year and a half with the county. 

“I’ve talked to Marty [Ertman] over the last month or two. I felt that the commissioners could do a few things differently to make their lives easier,” Stone said. Ertman is chairwoman of the commission.

Stone said she would continue to work as the deputy county attorney, as well as examine several parts of county administration on a part time basis for a few months. She also suggested hiring a part-time assistant or secretary to help her accomplish the goals she has in mind. 

“I am willing and eager and would enjoy the opportunity to help you with a few things for a few months,” she said. 

Stone suggested monthly luncheons with department heads and/or elected officials. She also suggested improvement to the atmosphere in meetings, looking into human relations issues with employees, helping coordinate budgeting between the departments and the board, making adjustments to the commissioners meeting room, training for the board and reviewing and updating policies. 

“It started as an HR thing after she watched a situation where we had to go into executive session,” Ertman said. “We had to do something we were not prepared to do, not trained to do. We were just listening to two sides and trying to figure it out.” 

Stone said that she was hoping to help the commissioners do things differently in some areas in order to avoid unnecessary conflicts or controversies.

“As I was sitting back and watching,” Stone said, “there is the need for relationship building, especially with the city, other agencies. Relationship building would be huge and go a long ways.” 

She noted that Gillette used elected or department head luncheons to build on relationships and prioritize work. 

Stone also suggested inviting Jeremiah Reiman, the director of the Wyoming County Commissioners Association, to do a board training for the commissioners. She said that he could review executive session laws, open meetings laws, Robert’s Rules of Order and the consequences of not following those laws. 

Stone also thought that several policies and procedures in the county needed to be reviewed and updated. 

“The (employee) handbook might need to be updated. At least one and a half years ago, it was ancient. “ 

The cover of the handbook said 2013, she said, adding that at least the cover should have been updated. 

“It could be really huge for employees,” Stone said, “to think they are kind of paying attention here.” 

Other areas where improvement and updating is needed are job descriptions, creation of salary ranges, establishment of employee evaluations and creation of policies such as a social media policy for employees. 

When asked about the time she would need, Stone said that she would put in roughly 15 hours a week, in addition to the time she spends as deputy county attorney. Her proposal, although not yet in writing, was an additional $2,500 a month. An assistant would be paid the same. 

She would start March 1 and work through June 30, she said. 

“If you are getting something out of it and it is going well, I could keep trying to do it longer,” Stone said. “If it’s not what you want to do, that is fine.” 

“I really think we could get the low-lying pieces – the training, job descriptions, training supervisors, employee performance evaluations …” she said. 

The commissioners all expressed support for the idea. Commissioner Don Taylor said Stone’s work would give the  board credibility, better policies and procedures and less confusion. 

“I would never shy away from someone giving training on running a meeting,” Commissioner Nathan Todd said. “I think that would be beneficial to everyone.” 

“At this point, the narrative has to shift. We aren’t the trolls under the bridge,” Ertman added after Stone suggested that the commissioners should work on public relations through press releases. 

“You can control how people see you by putting the good things out,” Stone said. 

The commissioners encouraged Stone to put together an official proposal to be presented to them in March. 


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