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Castleberry Fairs

Carroll County Commissioner Kenney makes more accusations

Charges not supported by evidence or county records

September 13, 2012
OSSIPEE — County Commissioner Asha Kenney was apparently trying to get at something at the Sept. 5 commissioner's meeting but it's unclear exactly what as she fired off accusation after accusation. This practice has become commonplace in recent meetings and starts with her introduction of "I just have a couple of things."

At the Sept. 5 meeting, she again accused the county's IT contractor of taking free meals. She had asked John Rich of Cybertron the question directly the week prior, stating the person "at the register" told her that he gets free meals. When asked, Rich countered by asking her when he supposedly got a free meal and said the staff have offered him a free lunch while he's doing work at the nursing home but neither confirmed nor denied if he had ever taken the free meal. Despite that, Kenney wrote it into the minutes that Rich said he gets a free meal and became agitated when Sorensen said Rich didn't say that.

As with her flurry of accusations last week and again this week, Commission Chair David Sorensen asked for proof in the form of a signed complaint by the employee or some sort of backup for the accusations.

Kenney's "couple of things" also included why the County paid the nursing home contractor $700,000 for the flooring of the new nursing home and why the commissioner's didn't put it out to bid to which Sorensen responded that the role of the general contractor is to oversee the entire project including hiring all of the sub-contractors. "That was in their contract," said Sorensen.

Other accusations included Kenney questioning why Sorensen was paid $200,000 over the years but she provided no backup documentation. Sorensen has been a county commissioner for 12 years. According to the county business office, the commissioners earn an annual stipend of $10,500 each, meaning Sorensen would have earned $126,000 in stipend. Where Kenney got the $200,000 is unclear because she didn't say at the meeting. Commissioners are also paid mileage for their trips to the county complex as well as trainings, meetings, and conference they attend.

Kenney accused Sorensen of spending $16,000 to go to the annual NH Association of Counties conference at Mt Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods in 2010. According to records at the county business office, Sorensen's registration fee for that conference was $165 and his lodging cost was $245. Again, we have been unable to determine how Kenney arrived at the $16,000 number as she provided no details in her accusations. According to business office records, the conference attendance falls under the "education and conferences" budget line. The total spent in 2010 for all commissioners and business office staff was $3,589.

Kenney accused Sorensen of giving money away, referring to a "settlement" given to the spouse of the former human resources director. The "settlement" has been thrown around at several commission meetings, appearing to be some sort of jab towards the former director, with some questioning a possible conflict of interest. We have learned that the "settlement" amounts to $2,211.04 and was paid to Tracey Waterman after she left her employ with the sheriff's department. Reportedly, this amount was not actually a suit filed by her then battled out in court, but rather reimbursement for accumulated leave time owed to her.

In a list obtained by this paper that is being distributed to the public as requested, the County has paid out $329,468.48 in 10 settlements in the years 2006 through 2012.

Six of the settlements, totaling $79,257.44 were paid out to former inmates of Carroll County House of Corrections with five of those paid out in 2006 and one in 2009.

In 2007, $90,000 was paid out to Barbara Woodburn, nursing home social worker after she was rehired once the NH Department of Labor had determined that she had been wrongfully terminated. Woodburn made news again this year when she publicly filed a13-page harassment complaint, the results of which have not yet been made public by Woodburn or the county commissioners.

In 2011, $135,000 was paid out to former Assistant Carroll County Attorney Sally Struble though the details of the settlement remain sealed.

In 2010, $23,000 was paid out to a former nursing home employee, Douglas Thompson. The details of that settlement, as well as all settlements paid out, are not being released by the commissioners on advice of their attorney. The commissioners have cited the state's right-to-know law that only requires them to release the year, name, and amount of the settlement that was paid out.

As the public in attendance and those that may watch the video of each week's meeting at www.governmentoversite.com try to keep track of Kenney's seemingly random accusations, one person who asked to remain anonymous said at the meeting, "You can sure tell we're getting close to election."

Garnett Hill
Martin Lord Osman
Parker Village
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