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Employee issues dominate Wells hearings

By Staff | Oct 16, 2011

Jeremy Germann

The Wells City Council spent nearly five hours behind closed doors to discuss personnel matters on Tuesday.

The two “Loudermill hearings” gave a former employee and another on administrative leave a chance to respond to allegations affecting their employment status.

Janie Whim, who was fired in August as the street department supervisor, appeared before the council with Jo Eastvold of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union.

“It wasn’t really a fact-finding hearing. It’s part of a long process that possibly could involve arbitration and veteran’s preference issues,” says City Administrator Jeremy Germann.

Four city employees — three from the street department and one from public utilities — also were part of the hearing lasting more than two-and-a-half hours.

Whim was hired in June 2010 and began her duties in July.

A “Loudermill hearing” allows a government employee an opportunity to correct any factual mistakes before an employer makes a decision on discipline.

Whim was fired for reportedly not following proper safety procedures during a one-vehicle accident on Aug. 23.

In the other hearing, police officer Alex Thostenson and his attorney Scott Higbee met with the council for more than two hours.

“He is accused of two actions that are unbecoming of an officer and not reporting an incident to his superior officer,” says Germann.

The allegations, says the city administrator, occurred within the last six months.

Germann says state law prohibits him from giving any details of the incidents.

“We hope to have this resolved by the next meeting,” he says.