County terminates employee

By Emily Bialkowski
Caledonia Argus

The Houston County Board unanimously voted at their Aug. 21 meeting to terminate the employment of Lindsay Pierce as an IT network manager and digital evidence technician.

The item first came before the board Aug. 7 when Human Resources Director Tess Arrick-Kruger said, on multiple occasions, including May 16 and 22, June 7 and July 16 and 27, Pierce demonstrated an  “almost verbally abusive”  demeanor at meetings and “refused to work with certain people.”

Pierce was put on paid administrative leave July 31, and Arrick-Kruger proceeded with executing the county’s  termination steps.

In his defense, Pierce provided the county a letter from his attorney, David L. Strand, that said, in part, “The answer to the first allegation is that there were never any physical behaviors that would fall into the county’s policy of offensive conduct. Mr. Pierce’s behavior was of strong verbal disagreement at best… The lack of respect and trust is a direct and conclusive result of Milde and other department heads conducting illegal activity for which I strongly feel they have a deep and vile contempt for me as the whistle blower.”

The letter references an incident that occurred in the summer of 2010 in which Pierce became a so-called whistle blower in the sheriff’s department for reporting that certain employees were illegally copying DVDs on county time and with county resources.

The case resulted in the reprimand of IT Director Andy Milde and former finance director Casey Bradley.

“I do not find the letter rebuts any of the assertions I brought forth,” Arrick-Kruger said.

In addition, Arrick-Kruger wanted to bring forth additional assertions about Pierce’s performance that included him being interviewed by a television station.

“He disclosed private information that the county has a duty to maintain in a private matter, specifically names. That is a violation of county policy,” Arrick-Kruger said, adding she also believed there was evidence being inappropriately maintained in his office.

“All these added allegations I would like sent to my attorney as soon as possible, please,” Pierce said.

As the board considered the decision before them, Commissioner Steve Schuldt asked if Pierce had ever been offered any type of coaching or training.

Arrick-Kruger said she had discussed with Pierce the need to present a training budget so he could stay on top of his skill set. She said he never followed through with that. She also said a work schedule of sorts was posted to help prioritize the workload and that was met with varied success.

Commissioner Tom Bjerke said the issue had already run through the personnel committee several times. “The county needs to do something,” he said, and with that the board unanimously agreed to terminate Pierce’s employment.

 

Contact Emily Bialkowski at emily.bialkowski@ecm-inc.com.

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