Hawkeye fires city maintenance worker

There was a crowd on hand to hear the Hawkeye City Council discuss the fate of the city ice skating rink, Monday night. At lower left is councilman Don Kelly, and at center, council persons Mark Creery and John Campbell. Resident Keith Kovarik, who was the impetus behind creating the rink on top of the fenced-in tennis courts in Hauth Park, five years ago, resigned as coordinator and park board member after city wastewater and streets director Dana Franzen (pictured at left center) locked him out of the bui

 

Hawkeye fires city maintenance worker

By Janell Bradley

 

HAWKEYE – This town's long reputation for cohesiveness and an ability to accomplish things on a grand scale teetered on the brink of collapse Monday night, but in the end, most hope the community would still be able to work toward a common goal.

Yet at the conclusion of the discussion, which saw council members allege insubordination by their City maintenance man, the council voted, 4-0, to terminate its employment of Dana Franzen.

Use of City equipment to maintain the City ice rink by longtime volunteer Keith Kovarik has been at the root of a conflict between Kovarik and City employee Franzen for some time. Kovarik said Monday that though he tried to discuss the problem with Mayor Brent Ungerer on numerous occasions over the past several days, the mayor did not respond to calls or knocks on his door. 

As a result, Kovarik resigned as unpaid ice rink coordinator and a member of the park and rec board. He said his resignation was in response to a series of phone texts with Franzen, including one that stated the ice rink on City tennis courts would be locked for the remainder of the season.

Mayor Brent Ungerer opened the discussion, stating, "We are still going to have an ice skating rink.

But park and rec board member Hugh Curtis responded, "Who are you going to get to take care of it?" 

The mayor suggested the park and rec board would assume the responsibility, and he said the board would have use of the City tractor.

At the mayor's suggestion that equipment had been damaged or items were left strewn around the shop, Councilmember Angie Weidemann asked for any records attesting to repairs for such damages.

The complaint made by Franzen Monday was that there was yellow paint on the tractor's lug nuts and tire tracks on the floor. As Weidemann read Kovarik's lengthy resignation letter, his investment in Hawkeye dating back over the 18 years he has lived in the town was noted.

Comments from the audience included one by Shelly Abernathy, who said, "I have often wished Keith lived in Fayette. People don't value volunteers like him enough."

Don Butikofer, while not a resident of the town, said that as a county employee, he's experienced the finger-pointing when shared equipment is damaged.

"You don't tell someone else how to use it; you just shut up and fix it," he said.

Rural resident Trudy Campbell added, "Hawkeye is a wonderful community because of the volunteers we have. To have the City not cooperating with someone giving of themselves is discouraging. I think we have to set an example that volunteerism and community service are something young children should emulate."

"Let's not hold the skating rink hostage," suggested David Pleggenkuhle, also a park board member.

Weidemann made the motion to terminate Franzen's employment with the City after detailing a list of incidents of alleged insubordination, negligence, and abuse of city property. Included were allegations of oil changes not being routinely made on City equipment, requests for overtime for a one-hour verbal discussion with a resident, failure to follow direct orders to patch streets, and failing to do inventory on a timely basis in addition to other items.

 

 

For the full story see the Feb. 6, 2013 Fayette Leader issue at your nearest retailer.

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