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Wells fires employee, but settles with other

By Staff | Jun 17, 2012

The saga of two Wells city employees placed on paid administrative leave is finally over.

On Monday night, City Council members voted?unanimously to fire police officer Alex Thostenson and to accept a separation agreement from Janie Whim, former street department supervisor.

Under the six-page Separation Agreement and Release of Claims, Whim will receive a sum of $40,000 from the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust on behalf of the city.

Also, the city will rescind her termination, Whim agrees to voluntarily resign effective Dec. 27, 2011, and City Administrator Jeremy Germann must provide her a favorable letter of reference.

Whim also will be paid for nearly 85 hours of unused vacation, 84 hours of sick time and 53 hours of comp time.

Last August, Whim was placed on administrative leave, then fired for not following proper safety procedures while unloading a city dump truck. She was hired in July 2010.

The council’s action came after meeting with City Attorney David Frundt in closed-session for nearly 45 minutes.

On the agenda, an item was listed as a “Loudermill Hearing” for Thostenson.

He appeared before the council with his attorney, Scott Higbee of the Law Enforcement Legal Services in St. Paul.

No hearing was held for Whim and she was not present.

“Based on the agreement we have between him and the city, I make a motion to terminate him (Thostenson),” Councilwoman Ann Marie Schuster told the other council members when the meeting was re-opened to the public.

Last October, Thostenson entered into an agreement for “discipline and remedial actions” and was placed on leave.

The three-page contract outlined conditions the seven-year veteran officer needed to meet by Jan. 1, 2012, to remain employed with the city. He was later granted an extension.

Some of the conditions Thostenson was required to meet included:

completing an alcohol treatment program at Fountain Center in Albert Lea;

passing a physical fitness examination before returning to work;

submitting to alcohol testing at the city’s request while employed;

abstaining from alcohol while employed with the city, a requirement that would be reviewed after 24 months and could be changed.

following and providing the city with a list of all after-treatment recommendations ordered by Fountain Centers for a period of 24 months. It would include AA meetings and therapist appointments.

Disciplinary action was taken against Thostenson for acts considered unbecoming of an officer and for not telling the city he was the subject of an outside investigation.