Lyon manager to face second termination showdown
Appeal Staff Writer
Lyon County Manager Donna Kristaponis’ job is on the line – again.
The draft agenda for the Feb. 15 meeting includes an item on termination of the county manager and hiring of an interim county manager.
Kristaponis said she was not told the reason for the agenda item, which was added to the draft agenda by Commissioner Don Tibbals.
“I guess they have their three votes,” she said. “I think it’s a shame because there’s still much to be done in this county.”
On Sept. 29, 2006, after unsuccessfully trying to get Kristaponis to resign, Commissioners Phyllis Hunewill and Bob Milz called a special meeting to consider her termination as county manager. But, after a show of support by staff and residents, commissioners voted in favor of hiring a facilitator to mediate differences between Kristaponis and the board members. Ruth Urban, of Las Vegas, was contracted to handle the facilitation. Later they canceled Urban’s contract in favor of a retreat and scheduled a workshop on the county manager ordinance.
At meetings there have been comments from the commissioners complaining that they haven’t gotten proper information on finances and criticizing the delegation of labor among top staff – a duty of the county manager – hinting that County Engineer Richard Faber has too many duties.
Kristaponis said the commissioners are trying to micromanage the county.
“I know they mean well, but this just doesn’t work,” she said.
She added that, to her knowledge, Faber was happy with his duties and said the commissioners get financial reports every month.
Faber, who has been county engineer for 11 months, said he was “busy but not overwhelmed,” and that his workload is the nature of his job.
“You almost always have a number of projects, and they all are going to be in different stages of completion,” he said. “There’s a lot of jobs that haven’t been taken care of for the past 20 years.”
Commissioner Larry McPherson, who wasn’t in office the first time this matter was before the commissioners, called the action “absolutely ridiculous.”
“I don’t want to say any more now except at that meeting there will be a lot of discussion, I’m sure, and I will be one of those whose voices will be heard,” he said.
Hunewill, Milz, Tibbals and Commissioner LeRoy Goodman did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Dayton resident Mabel Masterman, who worked with Kristaponis when Masterman was a member of the Dayton Regional Advisory Council and as a current board member of the Historical Society of Dayton Valley, decried the move.
“If this happens, the citizens in Lyon County are going to really be the losers,” she said. “Donna has given significant leadership in bringing Lyon into the 21st century and helping to address the issues that we’re facing.”
Masterman said her experience working with Kristaponis was positive.
“She has been wonderful to work with … she’s responsive,” she said. “A reality check is in order and some elected officials really need to set aside their egos. What a horrid loss for Lyon County.”
County building director Nick Malarchik, who spoke out in support of Kristaponis at the Sept. 29 meeting, said she still had his support.
“I do not understand why this is happening,” he said. “The commissioners were scheduled to have a workshop on Feb. 22 to clarify duties of the county manager, and the responsibility of the board so it comes as a surprise this latest action.”
Kristaponis said they would not have put it back on the agenda if they didn’t have the votes.
“It’s not an easy time to be here,” she said. “The other part of me says the staff is happy with the direction we’re going in. We’re getting a lot of things done. But I’m still sad.”
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 882-2111 ext. 351.
• Sept. 29 – Public hearing on possible termination of employment of Donna Kristaponis was held in the Lyon County Commission meeting room. Many staff and residents spoke in support of Kristaponis. No one spoke in support of termination. Commissioners voted 5-0 to hire a facilitator to mediate differences.
• October – Ruth Urban of Las Vegas was contracted to handle the facilitation. Mediation meetings were scheduled for Jan. 17 and March 21.
• Jan. 2 – Commissioners voted to cancel Urban’s contract in favor of a retreat with the county manager. No date is set for the retreat.
• Jan. 24 – Commissioners vote to hold a workshop to review the county manager ordinance. The workshop was to take place Feb. 22.
• Feb. 7 – Commissioner Don Tibbals put an item on the draft agenda to terminate the employment of Kristaponis and hire an interim county manager.