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RHCD ends CEO Harding’s contract

Posted: Monday, Nov 19th, 2012

SUBLETTE COUNTY – It did not take long for the effects of the Nov. 6 general election to be felt in the Sublette County Rural Health Care District (RHCD).

At its first meeting with new members Mandy Norris and Kristin Roork, the board voted in a split decision to terminate the district’s contract with CEO Rob Harding.

The meeting, Wednesday evening in Pinedale, began with Norris and Roork taking their seats on the board to replace prior members Cindy Van and Jason Zakotnik. The board then proceeded to elect new officers.

Board member Scott Scherbel was elected the new chairman; former chairman Dave Racich was elected vice-chair. Roork was elected secretary and treasurer, with one opposing vote from Racich. Racich said he opposed on the grounds that separate members, according to the district bylaws, should hold the secretary and treasurer offices.

After the election of new officers, the board moved into an executive session for legal counsel that lasted nearly 90 minutes.

The board returned to open session to discuss strategic planning committees, pay bills and receive financial and CEO reports. Shortly thereafter, the board moved to go into executive session again, to discuss personnel.

After another 30 minutes of discussion in executive session, the board came back into open session.

Newly elected chairman Scherbel called for a motion from the board immediately upon returning to open session.

After a brief pause, Roork spoke up, saying, “I make a motion that CEO Rob Harding’s contract be terminated.”

Harding added, “Without cause.”

Roork amended her motion accordingly, to read that Harding’s contract be terminated “without cause.” Board member Norris seconded the motion.

Scherbel called for a vote. Roork, Clark and Norris voted in favor and Racich was opposed. Scherbel declared the motion passed by a majority without him having to cast a vote.

Harding’s CEO contract was renewed in September. According to Scherbel in a follow-up interview, Wednesday was the first time the CEO contract had been discussed since renewing the contract in September.

“It’s an apparent result of the elections. That’s the obvious,” Scherbel told the Examiner.

Scherbel said the new board members, Roork and Norris, asked him to add CEO contract discussions to the agenda before the meeting.

Norris, in a later interview with the Examiner, said that it was her personal opinion, not representative of the board as a whole that the CEO needs to reside in the county. Harding was not a Sublette County resident.

“I just felt like if we were going to have a CEO he needed to reside in the county and be available five days a week,” Norris told the Examiner.

Norris also said that her issue with Harding came directly from Sublette County residents during the elections.

“The general citizens of Sublette County felt very strongly about that – he needs to be available five days a week,” Norris said.

Being “available” means residing in the county and keeping regular hours at both medical clinics, Norris said.

Scherbel declined to comment on the board’s rationale, saying that information was exclusive to the board’s executive session. Roork also declined to comment.

The board called a special meeting Monday to discuss dividing up the CEO’s duties, including projects Harding was currently involved in. The meeting was past press time for the Examiner, but will be detailed in next week’s Nov. 27 issue.

As for the board’s actions going forward, Scherbel said discussion Monday would decide the RHCD’s course.

“I hope to have the staff and board have a good open discussion on a direction the district should go, and we’ll go from there,” he said.

Asked if there were any other issues she plans to act on in subsequent meetings, Norris said she planned to take the issues as they came.

“I think it’s just going to be meeting by meeting. There (are) some issues here and there, little ones. I just think the spending needs to get under control. That’s my big thing,” Norris said.

The board’s next regular meeting is Dec. 19 at the Marbleton Town Hall at 7 p.m.

For the complete article see the 11-20-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 11-20-2012 paper.

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