Commission behavior questionable at March 19 meeting

The March 19 Marion County Commission meeting was anything but smooth sailing for the county treasurer and commission chair; both took potshots from the only other commissioner present.

It didn’t get any better when a man during the public forum said he wasn’t going to obey burn bans, and the county’s Emergency Medical Services director surprised the commissioners by tendering his resignation at the end of the meeting.

Commissioner Kent Becker was absent, and whenever Commission chair Dianne Novak would make a motion, Commissioner Randy Dallke said he wanted to delay the vote until Becker was present.

The items the commissioners did approve included the March 12 minutes, change orders and a Trade­wind letter directing them to pay the engineering bill.

The only other item approved item was buying 7,500 tons of rock from Woodbine and 7,500 tons from Waverly, both at the recommendation of Jesse Hamm, director of road and bridge.

It appears that one or more employees in the county treasurer’s office are circumventing the treasurer, Jeannine Bateman, and lodging their concerns with Dallke.

“Did we have an employee meeting after hours, Jeannine?” Dallke inquired. “I am asking the commission, surely we can have them during working hours.”

Novak responded, “I think you are stepping on a slippery slope because we have no control over her department. She can do whatever she feels she wants to do. Sorry, Randy, but that’s just the law.”

Dallke reiterated his concern, adding that an employee meeting after hours generates an overtime situation.

“I just feel that if the commission approved the treasurer’s office being shut down for 15-30 minutes of a morning it would settle the overtime dispute,” Dallke said. “I’m not saying she has to.”

Later in the meeting, EMS director Ed Debesis met with the commissioners to discuss February financials and patient runs.

He returned for a second appearance almost as a surprise to at least one of the commissioners, when he asked for a 10-minute executive session for personnel matters.

When the public session resumed, it was announced that Debesis had tendered his resignation, effective June 1.

Novak made a motion to accept Debesis’ resignation with regret, but Dallke refused to second it. County Clerk Tina Spencer said the issue will be discussed at the March 26 meeting, probably during administrative business.

After the meeting adjourned, Dallke gathered his items, walked by Novak, stopped, looked at her and said: “I am so sick of you—this is all your fault (regarding Debesis’ resignation). I am just so sick of you.”

Other business and more details from the meeting will appear in the March 28 print edition of the Free Press.

The entire meeting can be viewed via:, which is Marion County Television.