Bickering mars vote on county leadership

By TONY RAAP
Herald Staff Writer

For the second year in a row, an annual, routine procedure — deciding who will serve as president and vice president of the Dubois County Commissioners — degenerated into bickering and infighting.

Each January, the county commissioners vote on leadership positions. The board’s president leads the group’s twice-monthly meetings and is paid a slightly higher salary than the other two members.

Commissioner Randy Fleck on Monday was elected president despite a strenuous objection from fellow Commissioner Larry Vollmer, the board’s outgoing president.

Vollmer argued that Fleck was at the center of a controversy surrounding a county road near the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds. In August 2009, county workers paved Deer Trail Road with chip and seal, a project that cost more than $26,000.

Vollmer claimed that Fleck went to the county highway department and demanded that the road be paved even though the commissioners hadn’t approved the roadwork.

Fleck argued that the commissioners had agreed to pave the road and produced paperwork related to the project that included Vollmer’s signature. Vollmer said he never signed off on the project and claimed that his signature must have been forged.

“Where them documents come from, I don’t know — if they were fabricated or what,” said Vollmer, who later added, “I think they were doctored.”

“Your name’s all over it,” Fleck said. “That’s all I’m going to say.”
The squabbling dragged on for several minutes.

“I know what the facts are,” Vollmer said. “If you want to set here and lie to the public, that’s fine.”
“And you’ve done a good job of it,” Fleck said.

“That’s your opinion,” Vollmer said.

After the meeting, Fleck denied forging anything, saying the records he presented were from the county highway department.

“I don’t know where he’s coming from,” Fleck said of Vollmer.

Former Commissioner John Burger served on the board when the road was paved. When reached Monday night, Burger said that to the best of his recollection, all three commissioners approved the roadwork.

Last year, Fleck nominated himself for president, but the motion died after it failed to receive a second. The process was repeated with Commissioner Doug Uebelhor.

Ultimately, Vollmer remained president. Fleck and Uebelhor were visibly upset with the outcome.

In the past, the presidency has rotated every two or three years. Vollmer was president from 2003 to ’05 and from 2011 to ’13. Fleck was president from 2009 to ’10.

On Monday, Uebelhor nominated Fleck for president and the motion was seconded by Fleck. Fleck then nominated Uebelhor for vice president and the motion was seconded by Uebelhor. Vollmer opposed both nominations.

The president is paid $29,150. The other two commissioners will make $25,450.

Before the meeting, Uebelhor released a statement that said, in part: “I feel it’s important to separate the job we were elected to do from the politics. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen with the election of officers last year. I hope this year is different, and everyone fulfills their responsibility to the citizens who voted them into office.”

Contact Tony Raap at traap@dcherald.com.




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