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Town terminates 28-year employee

 

Members of the Town of LaGrange Board of Trustees met in a specially called, five-minute meeting Thursday evening and terminated the employment of a 28-year employee. The voice vote seemed to be unanimous among the four members present, Mark Eagleson, Richard Green, Greg Kenner and Ray Hoover. Hoover and Kenner were elected in the general election held last fall.

Bruce Eagleson, the fifth member of the board who is having some health issues at this time, was not present for either the special executive session held prior to the board meeting or the called special meeting.

Curley McBride, the dismissed employee, said that the three men he supervises all wanted him gone. He started work for the Town of LaGrange as a truck driver in 1984 and became superintendent of the street department in 1994, replacing Lloyd Myers.

Terry Paulas, who has been second in command, will be the temporary supervisor until the town trustees decide how to reorganize the department, according to Town Clerk Mike Rowlison. Other street department workers are Dennis Whetzel and Ronnie Bills.

Official reason for the termination was outlined in a letter released Friday:

“The Town Board has received complaints from street department employees concerning supervisory methods of management. Specifically, a very heated argument. After talking with both, it would appear that the discussion was over how to apply yellow paint on curbs, and the things that each said were inappropriate. The employee was told not to worry, ‘We’ll do your thinking for you’.”

“Further, the members of the street department informed the Board as follows:

“1. There is no weekly meeting of the street department nor any real discussion or sharing between the employees and management of what is going to be done each week. This was something agreed to on December 20, 2004.”

“2. The maintenance logs to be kept on each piece of machinery after December 20, 2004 were unacceptable. In discussions with employees, it does not appear that proper maintenance is being conducted on the machinery, and that no record of individual maintenance is being kept. The employees were all unaware of any schedule for maintenance being kept as to each particular piece of machinery.”

“3. The problems discussed on December 20, 2004 concerning criticism of employees, maintenance issues, and in particular, safety issues appear to have been uncorrected. Board members had all personally observed employees working in situations where hard hats and/or safety tethers should have been utilized, and each of the employees admitted they were not using such safeguards, even though the safeguards were apparently in the possession of the department.”

“4. The employees complained that many times their supervisor would prefer to ride a motorcycle rather than to utilize the town truck. It was confirmed that many times the motorcycle was ridden when the town truck was available. The Board was concerned that the town’s insurance may or may not cover an employee’s utilization of his personal vehicle when a town vehicle has been made available to that employee. The town also did not believe it was appropriate for their supervisors to be driving around their personal motorcycles in lieu of the town truck.”

“The problem which recently occurred with an employee was similar in nature to the one that started the December 20, 2004, job action and improvement plan, and made it obvious that the earlier problems had been permitted to recur, or were not appropriately resolved earlier. Each street employee made the statement that they did not respect their supervisor.”

This newspaper has requested copies of entries in McBride’s personnel records concerning this matter. Records have not been received as of press time Monday.