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Cushenbery blasts commissioners

Ex-employee tees off on personnel practices

News editor

When commissioners opened Monday’s meeting for public comment, they probably didn’t know what they were opening themselves up to.

Former road and bridge supervisor and ex-county employee Larry Cushenbery had plenty to say about his discontent with hiring decisions in the department.

Cushenbery’s manner was calm but intense as he set the stage for what was to come.

“Right after Jesse Hamm was picked as your superintendent, you made it a point to come down to a road and bridge meeting at seven in the morning to announce that,” he said. “One of the comments you made during that was that the other gentleman that was in competition for that job that was an engineer and had equipment background, who was probably even more qualified for the job than Jesse (Hamm), you said you kind of lost all your interest in him because he made some negative comments about a road build on 140th, and you pretty much didn’t want anybody who was talking bad about the county to be brought on board as a county employee.”

Earlier in the meeting, commissioners approved road and bridge employee James Olsen as the new bridge and culvert supervisor, at a monthly salary of $3,338. That’s where Cushenbery went next.

“Now I hear we’ve hired a guy that made the same comment, so apparently it’s who you are and not what you say,” Cushenbery said. “Mr. Olsen had also made some comments about that same road, the same type of comments that other person had made. He’s made these negative comments, and he’s also been employed by the county twice before and quit when he didn’t get his way. A lot of the road and bridge employees don’t like his attitude and he’s difficult to work with, but apparently he’s OK to go now.”

Cushenbery referred to former supervisor Randy Crawford, also criticized at times during his tenure for being difficult to work with.

“I just find it curious that we axed a guy that was highly qualified for a superintendent job over some of this stuff, and now we’re going to hire this guy that’s quit before,” he said.

Hiring the candidate Cushenbery alleged was more qualified than Hamm would have saved money on consultants, Cushenbery said.

“Had we got the other guy that had the engineering qualifications and the background, maybe we wouldn’t be seeing all of the consultants in here every month, having to ask the consultants what to do,” he said. “You guys have to end up managing stuff you shouldn’t have to manage.

“I’m confused by all this and I’m not the only one. I’m just the one bringing it up.”

Commission chairman Randy Dallke’s response was succinct.

“Thank you,” he said.

Commissioners made no other comments.

After the meeting, Cushenbery re-characterized his main point.

“I think the county is not getting the most bang for their buck, because instead of hiring people based on what they can do for the county, we’re hiring on whose buddy is whose buddy,” he said. “It’s the good old boy system.”

Last modified Aug. 10, 2017

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