Health coordinator doesn’t pass the test

Published 8:40 am Friday, April 16, 2010

Freeborn County received a grant in August 2009 from the Minnesota Department of Health. To receive these funds, Freeborn County must have a full-time project coordinator. Lois Ahern said the coordinator does not have to be a public health nurse or a health educator. He or she could be someone with a degree in community health community planning or equivalent. The word “equivalent” paints with a broad brush.

Ahern had several discussions whether or not to hire someone as a county employee or to go through Express Personnel. Ahern considered this grant to be temporary. To me, 18 months is more than temporary.

Ahren said she became aware of Ellen Kehr as a possible fit. Ahren made a recommendation to Express Personnel that Kehr would fit the job requirements. And that Ahern would like to hire her. The job was not posted for the public. Only Kehr was interviewed. Does this action pass the smell test? I think not! You be the judge.

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Express Personnel charges $28 per hour. The coordinator (Kehr) receives $22. The $6 per hour will remain at Express, for expenses. I believe the county has a payroll department. These employees could easily absorb the recordkeeping — $48 a day, $240 a week, etc.

John Kluever, county administrator, says it’s a practice the county always followed, but I will be looking at that practice. Mr. Belshan asked Kluever when the county used Express, in the past, if they’ve only interviewed one candidate. Response: “We’ve done it, but I’m not sure it’s the best practice.” The buck stops at your desk, Mr. Kluever. I’m sure you inherited many questionable practices from former county administrators.

Perhaps Freeborn County commissioners should consider hiring an independent firm specializing in government agencies to review the workings from top to bottom. For example, should the county continue to hire a retired employee to mow the grass on park lawns? Since his retirement at age 62, Mr. Gordy Sorenson continues to work for the last 20 years. What incentive does a young man have, to stay in Freeborn County? I’m not suggesting Mr. Sorenson not work past retirement, but not for the county.

Bob Mares

Albert Lea