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County’s elected officials blast proposed handbook

Alexis Barker, News Editor

‘None of us want it’
Weston County’s elected officials expressed distaste for proposed human resources and public relations guidelines when they discussed a county employee handbook being considered by the Board of Weston County Commissioners at the commissioner’s meeting on Dec. 5. 
The handbook has been in the works since March 2022, but this is not the first time elected officials have questioned the work performed by Deputy County Attorney Jeani Stone, who was tasked with preparing the handbook nearly two years ago. 
As previously reported by the News Letter Journal in October 2022, a trio of county commissioners expressed concerns during the commissioners Sept. 20 meeting about Stone’s work on both the county employee handbook and a dispatch contract or resolution. Vice Chairman Nathan Todd and Commissioners Don Taylor and Ed Wagoner were the only commissioners in attendance at that meeting. 
“We have two assignments that were kind of put out to Jeani …, a contract or resolution on dispatch and employee handbook, which we have not seen yet,” Taylor said. “So I was just looking for an update on where we’re on that … and what kind of bang for the buck we got out of that.” 
Additionally, as the News Letter Journal reported last year, on March 1, 2022, in a 3-2 split vote (former Chairwoman Marty Ertman and former Commissioner Tony Barton and Wagoner voting in favor and Commissioners Taylor and Todd against), the board voted to enter a four-month $20,180 agreement with Stone. 
The proposal was suggested and prepared by Stone, and the agreement listed various issues that Stone planned to address over that period, including the employee handbook, personnel issues, board training, contract review and other duties. Stone also continued working as the deputy county attorney, while taking on the additional public relations/human resource duties included in the agreement. 
While the dispatch debacle has been resolved with the creation a joint powers board, the county has yet to see an approved handbook, and some elected officials are not sure they want to. 
“None of us want it. None of the elected officials want it,” County Clerk Becky Hadlock said. “The elected officials didn’t want anything changed. We said that multiple times.” 
Hadlock further said that the board had not listened to the elected officials and now the issue was going to be discussed in public, something she said they asked not to happen. 
“We would all like it to be pushed under the rug,” Hadlock said. “None of us wanted it changed.”
Taylor interjected that he voted against the motion originally and that he is trying to figure out what the county is trying to accomplish. 
If the elected officials do not want the handbook, he said, “then we need to apologize to the constituents for wasting their tax dollars.” 
Todd asserted that while it could be considered waste, the county paid for Stone’s time to do the work and that was done. 
“She did her job, now we are hashing out what we want to accept,” he said, noting that if the board and elected officials don’t like the job she performed, then it could be considered a waste. 
Hadlock insisted that the board needed to take the $20,000 out of the equation and listen to the elected officials. 
“Listen to what we are saying. … A majority want the old handbook,” Hadlock said, noting that she wants the board to remember this conversation on Dec. 19 when the elected officials meet to discuss the future of the handbook. 
“Let’s quit arguing about it and beating a damn dead horse. Go to the old handbook and leave it alone,” Treasurer Susie Overman said. “... Yes, you wasted money, that is water under the bridge. You guys waste money all the time.” 
She added that everyone needs to get unified and keep things the same, noting that the new handbook is too lengthy and the old handbook is “verified.” 
The commission will discuss the handbook with elected officials on Dec. 19, although a time for the discussion was not set by press time. 


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