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Work to begin on Carroll County complex fitness trail

Kenney complains about handling of a jail grievance

July 19, 2012
OSSIPEE — Work is underway to build a walking trail at the Carroll County complex. At the July 11 county commissioner's meeting Friends of Mountain View volunteer Maureen Spencer gave some details about the plan meant to offer a nice place to walk for county employees, nursing home residents, and the public. It was a spark of positive news during a meeting that remained mostly cordial and positive.

Spencer, along with other volunteers, and Commissioner David Sorensen walked the proposed trail construction site. "It's just going to be a nice little path so on your lunch hour you can eat your sandwich then go for a walk, use the fitness stations," said Spencer. She encouraged those in attendance at the meeting to go and explore the trail at Effingham Elementary School, the model the group is using for the county trail. "You should go look at Effingham School's trail. That's just a delightful trail. People love that. The community uses it a lot," said Spencer.

Spencer said the plan is to construct the trail in stages, as donated funding becomes available. The plan calls for the trail to be five to six-feet wide, a plus for folks in wheelchairs who would like to use the trail with room for someone to walk beside them. Spencer said that Wendy Scribner of UNH Cooperative Extension intends to have a diagram of the proposed trail available for public viewing and comment at Carroll County Farm Day on July 28 at the county complex in Ossipee.

Commissioners Dorothy Solomon asked questions during Spencer's presentation while Sorensen offered additional details and thanked Spencer for bringing up the topic. Commissioner Asha Kenney's said nothing about the trail and when given the opportunity to speak asked, "Is there already a cost for the conduct and grievance investigation against Commissioner Solomon and Sorensen?"

Kenney was referring to the 13-page harassment complaint filed by nursing home social worker Barbara Woodburn against the "Carroll County Home, naming Commissioner Sorensen and Solomon." Woodburn was fired in 2005, sued, and was rehired in 2006, stating the state labor board found she had been wrongfully terminated. In her complaint she says that the transition back was not easy and basically her complaints and alleged harassment against her has been going on for six years and no one has done anything about it. Kenney was excluded from the complaint. "Please note Commissioner Kenney is purposefully being excluded from this as she had no knowledge of most of these events. She was purposely excluded from the information by Commissioner Solomon, Commissioner Sorenson and the HR person, despite my written request that she be included. Thus, she should not be held accountable for what has occurred," Woodburn wrote. Kenney will likely be keeping the subject on the weekly meeting agenda to be sure the total cost of the investigation into Woodburn's grievance is made public since the cost to investigate a grievance against her resulted in a $17,500 legal bill.

When pressed again this week, commissioners cited attorney advice as the reason they will not be releasing the results of the grievance investigation filed against Kenney. Sorensen said several people were interviewed during the investigation and protecting their privacy is the reason for keeping the final report confidential. Kenney said the report is covered under attorney-client privilege and not subject to the state's right-to-know law. But once again, Kenney appears to have sidestepped the attorney's advice with a guest commentary published in this newspaper July 12. In that commentary, Kenney accuses the former human resources director of being uncooperative, disrespectful, and questions her overall job performance. She also accused the ex-employee of being resistant to supervision, of acting against the interests of the county and of releasing non-public documents to this reporter, a claim that has been determined baseless.

Though details were sketchy at the July 11 meeting, there appears to be another grievance brewing – this time at the jail. Despite Sorensen repeatedly saying commissioners would discuss the matter in non-public, Kenney waved a document and said, "I just got a copy here from Belknap County. This is about the jail. I have been asking for a long time who is doing the jail grievance investigation. Because now there is a report why was I not included? Who made that decision? Who did you hire to do the investigation? It was about the harassment policy. This is biased. I don't accept that. This is ridiculous. You are letting someone else from another jail do this investigation. There is so many conflict. I get this copy handed from somebody in HR (human resources) and her husband works at the jail and he is involved. That is a conflict." Sorensen declined to give any information about the type or cause of the grievance. He did explain the reason why an outside agency completed the investigation. "We asked the sheriff's department to investigate. They refused because they will be involved in the case. The county attorney was asked, but he is prosecuting so didn't want anything to do with it. The suggestion by them was to go to a correctional facility outside of Carroll County to do the investigation and that is where we went. We will talk about the rest of it in non-public."

Commission e-mail

The IT contractor for the county complex, John Rich of Cybertron, will be working on installing a computer in the commissioner's office that will be accessible only to the commissioners and setting up e-mail accounts for each commissioner. Due to recent concerns, Sorensen announced at a previous meeting that the commissioners will no longer be accepting county business-related e-mails on their personal e-mail accounts. Rather, any e-mails meant for the county commissioners are to now be sent to commissioners@carrollcountynh.net. He said the process would be for e-mails to be opened by business office staff and then forwarded to the commissioners. The three commissioners agreed to this plan, but at the July 11 meeting Kenney changed her mind and blasted Sorensen and accused him of "doing it on purpose" for allowing the county's attorney to send confidential information to the commissioner's e-mail that could be viewed by office staff when it should only be available for the commissioner's viewing. The hope is that with the changes Rich will be implementing, this will be a non-issue. Additionally, county employees will be told that general inquiries can be sent to the commissioners@carrollcountynh.net e-mail address. If, however, employees have issues they need to discuss with commissioners that they do not want office staff to read, they should submit those in writing the old-fashioned pen and paper way or call the commissioners at their homes.

Other meeting news

A committee made up of Carroll County Sheriff's Dept. Lt. Michael Santuccio, Mountain View Administrator Sandi McKenzie, Carroll County HOC Supt. Jason Johnson, and Carroll County Registrar Ann Aiton met and reviewed the pile of resumes received as applications for the vacant human resources director position. They narrowed down the pile to seven applicants and gave their recommendations to the commissioners who planned to begin interviewing applicants on July 18.

Johnson reported that inmates are once again being allowed to use the recreation yard at the jail after some modifications were made to reduce the escape risk. Johnson also reported at a recent meeting that the policy regarding jail visitation time has changed. All visits are now "no contact" and there are no longer visiting hours on the weekends. To accommodate visitors who work during the week and used to visit on weekends, Johnson said visiting hours have been extended to 8 p.m.

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