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County board continues to butt heads with highway superintendent

December 13, 2017

COLUMBUS — The head of a county department is being reprimanded for a personnel issue.

The Platte County Board of Supervisors went into an executive session Tuesday to discuss the matter involving the highway department.

Terry Wicht, Platte County highway superintendent, requested the discussion, which lasted about 45 minutes, be held in closed session. After the board exited executive session, members voted to have a written reprimand placed in Wicht’s employment file.

After the meeting, board Chairman Jerry Engdahl said he couldn’t discuss the specifics of the personnel issue, adding that it was “making a mountain out of a mole hill.”

The board has held several discussions about Wicht and the highway department in the past. Earlier this year, the supervisors held another closed session with Wicht to discuss an “incident.” A motion was made then for the highway superintendent to receive a written warning along with a suggested corrective action of anger management. That motion didn’t pass.

Other disciplinary action and a possible suspension for Wicht have also been discussed at past meetings.

Engdahl said he’s “very concerned” about the number of times the board has had discussions about Wicht. Even though Wicht is head of the department, he isn’t elected to that position. The county board has the authority over employees in appointed positions, including Wicht, which is why any related issues come before the supervisors.

“We could be having the same problems with elected officials for various reasons but we have no authority over them because they are elected officials. They don’t answer to us,” Engdahl said.

In other business, the board approved:

• amusement licenses for Shenanigans, U.S. 30 Speedway, the Platte County Agricultural Society, Columbus Inline Hockey and T&K Pitstop.

• placing a sign stating “In God We Trust” on the wall above the file cabinet across from the general assistance office on the first floor of the Platte County Courthouse. Another sign may be placed outside the courthouse. The board approved adding the sign during a September meeting after being approached by a member of In God We Trust-America Inc.

• pay increases for Extension office staff taking effect Jan. 1. Jody Wendt’s pay will go from $17.03 per hour to $17.33, Sandra Swanson will earn $16.64, up from $16.36, and Beth Jones will receive an increase from $13.90 to $14.14. The raises are in addition to the 25-cent increases given to all county employees this year.