BOCC Extension Chaos: Attempts at Damage Control Uncertain

BOCC Extension Workshop

—May 2, 2017

by Jackie Bubis
On May 2nd, the Board of County Commissioners held a workshop to discuss the repercussions of Carlan Cardenas leaving the position of 4-H Coordinator.  This was in response to a letter received by the Board from Bill Nobles, Regional Director of CSU Extension.  Another letter was sent to 4-H leaders and families from Jean Glowacki, Director, 4-H Youth Development.  Both were letters saying that the 4-H program in Custer County is suspended for the moment.  The letters went on to identify steps that must be taken in order for 4-H to be reinstated in the county.
Commissioner Hood read Ms. Glowacki’s letter, stating that it was “very inconsiderate of Ms. Glowaki to not have a conversation with the BOCC before sending out this email to 4-H families.  Actually I think her actions were preposterous.”
Chairman Kattnig again stated that he has had numerous meetings with Mr. Nobles asking for help to “fix things” with no help coming from CSU.  He went on to say, “What they’ve done is kicked our youth in the mouth, and I’ll be da**ed if I’ll stand for it.”  “I’m not going to stand by and let CSU arbitrarily say, well, we’re not going to do this and you’re suspended and if we hire somebody, we gotta do this. For this to come out and us not be part of it is not acceptable.  We will be in touch with Dr. Frank.  If we can’t get resolution, we will be going up the line.  If it comes down to seeking legal action, I’m going to support that too.  This is a disservice to the professionalism of the leaders, the work of the youth and to the county officials.”
The Board told the crowd gathered that they had reached out to Beverly Goertz, who formerly assisted Robin Young with the 4-H program and to Sara Shields, local rancher and 4-H leader.  They assured the crowd that these two people would “help us get back to where we need to be.”
Kattnig also stated, “I’ll be da**ed if our kids will be discriminated against at state fair.” [recording]
When local Don Camper expressed his disappointment at Robin Young’s being fired because the Board didn’t see eye-to-eye with her, Commissioner Hood again claimed that “we didn’t fire her.”  (Editor/GG: Note that in a letter to the CSU President prior to Young being canned, ALL THREE Commissioners insisted that Young be removed from her job. The BOCC DID ask her boss to remove her. It is disingenuous, at best, for the Commissioners to say they “didn’t fire her”. How about a little honesty here, folks.) Camper went on to say that he was sorry that Cardenas wasn’t present to give her side of the story.  Hood vehemently denied Camper’s claim that the Board was blaming Cardenas in the matter.
The rest of the meeting was spent discussing job descriptions for Ms. Shields and Ms. Goertz , as independent contractors.  Shields position would likely be titled County Agent and Goertz would be the Office Manager.  Attorney Smith suggested that they take out language such as “extension” and use “extension-like” in its place, stating, “We’re doing these as independent contractor positions so we don’t have to advertise.”
Mr. Kattnig stated that the Board would be creating temporary positions that would keep the 4-H program going until CSU fills the Extension Agent position.
CSU would have to approve Ms. Goertz to continue the 4-H program.  “They don’t have a d**n thing to say about Sara [Shields],” Mr. Kattnig said. When asked what their plan is if CSU doesn’t approve Beverly Goertz to fill this 4-H position, Mr. Kattnig said he would get hold of every politician he knows and call in every newspaper and TV station he can find.  “I probably have more experience than most of the county agents in the state.  I probably have more experience than the district director has.  I know what can be done.  I know what needs to be done.  And if it isn’t done at the state level, we’ll go to the federal level.” [recording]
A follow-up meeting of the BOCC was held on May 4th.
It began with Commissioner Hood stating that a recording had been made of the Tuesday workshop by John Johnston and having it out there [the recording]on social media made it look like it was a recorded BOCC meeting.  “I would like our minutes to show that that was incorrect and that there are falsehoods out there, with accusations being made, so I just want that on the record.” The workshop was not recorded [officially] and she was upset that it was apparently being portrayed to the public that [the recording] was [officially] recorded.
Mr. Kattnig’s opening statement: “I liken social media to the old party line, used to be if the phone rang,
everybody would go grab it so they could hear what everybody else was doing.” He cautioned that “just because it’s on media doesn’t mean it’s true.”
Attorney Clint Smith reported that he stopped in to see Bill Nobles and had a pleasant conversation.  When he filled in Nobles on the plans with Goertz and Shields, Nobles was happy to hear it.  The decision on whether Goertz would have to take further training at CSU was not up to Nobles, but up to Glowacki.  Nobles did assure Smith that the kids here could participate in the weigh-in in either Pueblo or Fremont counties.
Mrs. Hood said that there was a lot of confusion and that what was talked about in the workshop was just a plan.  She also wants to meet with Attorney Smith to work out the contracts for both of them.
The board was very excited and gave the impression that the 4-H issue has now been fixed.
When a 4-H leader asked if 4-H meetings could go on,  the consensus was that, for insurance purposes, they could meet in the courthouse building.  But there needed to be clarification from Director Glowacki that these meetings could go on.