• Last modified 1579 days ago (Feb. 27, 2020)


Counsel warns remarks blasting county employee 'inappropriate'

Resident’s remarks about Goebel should have been cut off, Jantz said

Staff writer

A county resident’s blistering comments about county engineer Brice Goebel during Monday’s commission meeting led county counsel Brad Jantz to warn commissioners the remarks were not appropriate.

An employee’s job performance is not to be discussed in open session, and he would have cut the speaker, Linda Peters, off, Jantz said.

Goebel’s reaction to an earlier suggestion from commissioner Dianne Novak that the county should purchase harder rock elsewhere instead of softer rock from Harshman’s quarry at Florence was part of Peters’ complaint.

Novak said she had researched other quarries and learned that harder rock could be obtained elsewhere at better cost. Goebel disagreed that her research was accurate. After further discussion, commissioners decided Goebel would test rock from other quarries and see how the harder rock withstood traffic.

“The opposition to trying other rock quarries has been astounding,” Peters said. “The county learned about the Hamm Quarry from this commissioner but again with outlandish opposition from the road and bridge department.”

According to Peters, Goebel said two weeks later that he would try rock from four different quarries “that no one can know who it is, 18 miles of roads that will not be disclosed to anyone and wants it to be unbiased is his justification.”

“No one understands why all the opposition to a direct request and instead comes up with his own plan which he didn’t want to do to begin with,” Peters said. “Being secretive appears to the public that he does not want to work with the commissioners and you can tell from the video, the commissioners are frustrated.”

Peters claimed that Goebel also appears to be frustrated.

“It is very apparent when he throws up his hands, puts his head down and shakes it back and forth, throws out statements in so many words that ‘well, we can break the bank’ or tells people that he is ready to write his letter of resignation,” Peters said.

Peters said the county asked for a better understanding of how to fix the roads three years ago. Very few roads have been fixed yet. She added that she hasn’t seen the long-term plan that Goebel promised to present.

Goebel, hired last June, had said he would have the plan ready by the end of March.

“Let’s get back to the table and stop ‘one-upping each other’ and get some roads fixed,” Peters said. “If the commission asked for something, do it. Let’s get back to the table and keep focused on the end game,” Peters said.

After Peters’ comments, commission chairman Jonah Gehring came to Goebel’s defense about the long-term plan for road repairs, saying commissioners had talked about having the plan completed at the end of March. When the issue of roads comes up, there’s a feeling that nothing is getting done, Gehring said.

“He’s going to do anything he can do to help us,” Gehring said.

Last modified Feb. 27, 2020