MONTROSE – Changes are underway in the Montrose County Road and Bridge Department in the aftermath of an eye-opening audit released last week, starting with a reorganization at the top of the Public Works Department.
Montrose County Media Relations Manager Katie Yergensen said on Tuesday that Public Works Director Brian Wilson, who oversaw Road and Bridge, “is no longer with the county” and that assistant director Dan Loncar has been named interim director of public works.
“We will be searching for somebody for that position, but at this point we are looking to further assess the department and continue to move forward to make the right decisions,” Yergensen said.
Wilson’s departure is the only staff change to take place since the results of the audit were released on May 15. The audit, which was ordered by County Manager Rick Eckert and completed by County Technical Services, Inc., found that a majority of the 44 employees interviewed claimed the Road and Bridge Department was poorly managed and that favoritism and sexism exist within the department’s management.
A majority of employees interviewed also said Fleet Maintenance Supervisor David Laursen was not qualified for his job and suggested that he may have unfairly purchased tires from his private auto repair shop for the county’s fleet of vehicles. According to Yergensen, Laursen still holds his position as Fleet Maintenance Supervisor.
At Monday’s meeting of the Montrose Board of County Commissioners, Eckert said the report contained allegations “that are true and some that are not,” and that the county is continuing to address those issues. On Tuesday, Yergensen said the county’s investigation into the matter will produce findings on those allegations.
“At this point we are still doing some investigating to make sure we have all the facts. At some point we will set the record straight,” she said.
For the most part during Monday’s meeting, commissioners were praised by members of the public for their handling of the situation. The audit was initiated after one commissioner received numerous complaints about the department, and the board subsequently directed Eckert to find the problem areas.
“Thank you and bravo to the county manager and the Board of County Commissioners for completing the report on the road and bridge assessment,” resident Roger Brown said. “My feeling is remedial action is now. It’s clearly needed and perhaps a reorganization would be appropriate. I am very, very pleased that we have pressed on and we now have something to work on.”
“It’s a big rock to turn over,” resident Marsha Bailey said. “You never know what’s going to become of it. You handled it well. This is a difficult thing even in a private business.”
All three of the commissioners, along with Eckert, spoke highly of the employees working in the Road and Bridge Department, and all said they look forward to a better future.
“When the smoke clears, a lot of good things are going to come out of that department,” Eckert said. “It’s an interesting time, so please bear with us as we work through these things.”
Commissioner Gary Ellis did take a moment to speak about Wilson’s tenure as Public Works Director and that it wasn’t all bad.
“I think it should be noted, though, that he did do a lot for this county,” Ellis said. “He was an employee for 15 years. I don’t want people to forget the positive things that were done on his watch. Not everything was negative.”
Commissioner Ron Henderson said it’s in tough times like these that individuals and organizations reveal their true identities.
“I appreciate this opportunity for all of us to work together,” Henderson said. “It’s times like this when we find out who people are and what they are made of.”