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Boeckman resigns as county administrator
Commission requested resignation and is negotiating buyout of his contract
new deh county commission special meeting pic web
Allen Glendenning, an attorney for the Great Bend law firm of Watkins Calcara, left, joined the Barton County Commission Friday morning for executive sessions involving the resignation of County Administrator Richard Boeckman. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Following two executive sessions totaling 90 minutes Friday morning, the Barton County Commission emerged to announce County Administrator had resigned effective Friday at the request of the commission, pending the buyout of his contract.

Boeckman resigned via letter. He was not present for the meeting.

The commission had called the special meeting in order to hire the Great Bend law firm of Watkins Calcara Chartered and immediately entered into closed-door discussions with the firm’s Allen Glendenning. Watkins Calcara was brought on to negotiate the terms of the buyout.

Boeckman has been offered $27,500, Glendenning said. It could have been as $60,000, but that what the negotiations were about.

As to what precipitated the resignation request, the commission remained mum.

Boeckman could not be reached for comment.

The action Friday followed a string of executive sessions and the matter has been treated as personnel matter involving a non-elected employee. As such, commissioners said they will not be releasing any further information.

The matter dates back months.  

After executive sessions on Aug. 15, the commission approved hiring the law firm Kennedy Berkley Yarnevich Williamson Chartered, Salina, to assist with an investigation. The action came at the recommendation of Sheriff Brian Bellendir, who said based on the information obtained during the course of an internal investigation, the issue appeared not criminal in nature. 

Bellendir and County Clerk Donna Zimmerman have been included in most of the closed sessions. 

Here are some of the previous events leading up to Friday:

• On Feb. 7, the commission took no action on an unspecified personnel matter after emerging from two executive sessions Monday morning. The closed-door discussions came at the request of Straub based on an employee complaint outlined in a registered letter received by all commissioners the week before.

Straub had first fought to have an executive session by seeking to amend the meeting’s agenda. After a second by Commissioner Homer Kruckenberg, the motion failed on a 2-2 vote, with commissioners Kenny Schremmer and Don Davis opposed.

The issue seemed dead until the commission reached the “Other Business” portion of the meeting. It was then that Straub revived her attempt at calling an executive session and the commission acquiesced. 

• On Aug. 15, a trio of executive sessions ended in a Salina law firm being hired for investigative work concerning personnel issues.

Straub started a trio of executive sessions that featured Bellendir regarding non-elected personnel issues. 

After a one-hour session, Straub had a motion approved for the law firm Kennedy Berkley Yarnevich Williamson Chartered, Salina, to assist with an investigation.

• On Sept. 25, Boeckman publicly told county commissioners he planned to step down from his post come next March, but he said he is not ready to completely retire.

Boeckman had talked with commissioners about his leaving on and off over the years and the topic came up again at the commission’s study session last week. He has served as administrator/county counselor since January 2004. For 14 years prior to that, he contracted with the county as counselor.

• In a vaguely worded statement issued Oct. 4, Barton County commissioners announced that an investigation had been conducted but no more information was released.

The statement, made by commission Chairman Don Davis, came after two half-hour executive sessions called to discuss non-elected personnel. Present in the session with the commissioners were Zimmerman and Bellendir.

The sessions Wednesday followed a series of closed-door meetings following the commission’s agenda meeting Monday two weeks ago. Theses were also to discuss non-elected personnel and both Zimmerman and Belledir were present as well.

• On Oct. 10, Commissioner Alicia Straub’s asking for a 10-minute closed-door meeting sparked a heated exchange after fellow commissioners felt blind-sided by the request. Straub sought the executive session as an addition to the agenda to continue discussions around the investigation involving non-elected county personnel.

Straub asked for the session as the commission was set to adopt the agenda for the regular meeting. However it met with resistance from those who thought the matter had been handled the previous week when it was announced that an investigation had taken place.

There were eventually an hours worth of executive sessions, but no more information was released afterwards.