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Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

Official resigns in protest

Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 05:19 PM

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Dale Ravencraft, who quit his engineering department manager job Monday for refusing to write up an employee, said in a lengthy letter there was a conscious effort to prevent that person from advancing in her career.

He said he would have no part in it.

Ravencraft, who gave up his $90,563 position after six years on the job, said the county's director of environmental services, Susan Goebel-Canning, told him to write a formal written reprimand to employee Diana Koontz so she would not be eligible for a management position should it become available.

Ravencraft said Koontz was disliked by some for personal reasons and Goebel-Canning was using her as a scapegoat for her actions contributing to the damage to the Peck Sink watershed project from heavy rains.

County Administrator Len Sossamon said he will look into Ravencraft's allegations. He did say that, based on what he already knows, Ravencraft allowed personal ill will to fester in his department for at least two years and said that is not the mark of an effective manager.

Goebel-Canning said in an email Thursday that she, Ravencraft and Marsden agreed at a June 25 meeting that Koontz should be disciplined for improperly dictating a design change and not informing her supervisors of that move.

"We all agreed a warning was an appropriate means of providing (Koontz) with constructive criticism so she could avoid such mistakes in the future," she wrote.

Marsden did not respond Thursday to multiple requests for comment.

Ravencraft said in mid-June, Goebel-Canning told him to issue a written reprimand to Koontz for "directing means and methods" on the Peck Sink Project against the recommendations of the contractor.

Specifically, Koontz approved the use of hydro-seeding the slopes of the sink, a cheaper method than sodding suggested by the contractor.

Ravencraft refused to issue the reprimand, saying the punishment was too harsh and would alienate a valuable and productive member of his staff.

When Goebel-Canning then issued Ravencraft a verbal warning for not reprimanding Koontz, he said he had enough.

He wrote up a lengthy account of all that transpired, sent it to the county administrator and then turned in his resignation Monday.

Ravencraft said the Peck Sink incident, although on the surface appearing to be the reason Marsden and Goebel-Canning were pushing for the Koontz reprimand, was secondary.

There was a hidden agenda, he said, which became clear during a meeting with Marsden and Goebel-Canning.

"It was pointed out (then) that without something like that in the file, Diana could possibly qualify for the engineering manager's position and that we might not be able to prevent her (Diana Koontz) from getting that position," Ravencraft wrote in his recollection of the meeting.

Ravencraft said he was taken aback by that statement by Marsden and it became clear that the true objective was not so much Peck Sink but getting a written reprimand in his employee's file to prevent her from progressing up the ranks.

"I didn't want to be a part of this and I couldn't go along with this," Ravencraft said.

Ravencraft said conditions in his department had been going downhill since the former director of environmental services, Joe Stapf, resigned about six months ago.

Ravencraft said he had been contemplating leaving since then, but this latest incident persuaded him it was time to go.

"I just think we've had a crisis in leadership," he said. (352) 544-5290

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