CLINTON — With Clinton County Conservation Executive Director Walt Wickham placed on administrative leave, the Clinton County Conservation Board elected to leave a majority of the decision making in the interim period to department heads.
Clinton County Board of Supervisors Chairman Dan Srp earlier this week confirmed that Wickham was placed on administrative leave effective March 10. Clinton County Attorney Mike Wolf said that is still Wickham’s status.
The conservation board Tuesday turned its attention on how to fill the executive director role in the interim. The board considered whether to appoint an interim executive director or assign the role to multiple individuals who have authority to make decisions.
West District Park Officer Chip Brown supported decisions for the most part being left up to the department heads. He said there are some bigger issues that may come up in which someone will have to make the final decision.
Naturalist Jill Schmidt believes employees within the department can be the lead role within the department and make decisions for the day-to-day operations. She believes financial decisions would need to be conveyed to the board moving forward.
Srp said the budget for the current fiscal year is already in place, adding the county supervisors have a budget pending approval for the next fiscal year.
“I think that (Conservation Executive Director) Tara (Sbertoli) would be perfectly capable of letting us know the status of those accounts and what we have left to utilize between now and the end of the fiscal year,” Srp said. “I don’t, I guess, have concerns with that collaboration and Tara maintaining that oversight of the budget and the application of the budget and expenses.”
Board member Rita Hart questioned whether Clinton County Conservation had any employee serve as an assistant to the director or if there were any retirees who served in the executive capacity who are still in the area.
Srp does not believe anyone is still in the area who served in the executive capacity. Clinton County Conservation also does not have any employee who served as an assistant to the director.
“With our organizational structure as we’ve been currently operating, we had individuals identified in sub-management categories and responsibilities of whether it was seasonal staff or East District or West District oversight and then report to the director,” Srp said. “And so if we can kind of expand a little bit for those previously identified individuals. Give them the authority to manage their previously identified areas. Then that would be an option that we need to consider.”
The conservation board approved a motion to empower the five department representatives to continue to administer their departments. The departments are budget, environmental education, East District, West District and Natural Resources. The board also approved a motion to have Srp serve as the contact liason for decision making.