voices displeasure with Extension
Last month, the Platte County Extension Council decided
in a closed session to terminate the positions of bookkeeper/office
assistant and office manager held at the time by Rose
Marie Lawrence and Sandra Cox.
A human resources employee, hired by the Extension Council,
informed Lawrence and Cox of the decision on the morning
of June 5 when they arrived at work.
At a special meeting on Monday night, the Extension Council
board heard many concerns of citizens over the "reorganization"
of the Extension office, which is an outreach program
funded by the University of Missouri with some financial
assistance from the county.
The official purpose of the previously-unscheduled meeting
on Monday was to discuss a new position and job description
of administrative assistant, the result of the consolidation
of the jobs previously done by Lawrence and Cox.
"They decided to consolidate," said 2nd District
County Commissioner Steve Wegner, the county's appointment
representative to the board. "They're going from
two positions down to one."
The board unanimously decided to place an advertisement
seeking a person to maintain overall office operations,
perform bookkeeping and data entry and all clerical office
functions, among other things.
The discussion of this new position was the only item
on the agenda, but the 30-plus curious citizens in attendance
made sure it was not the only thing that happened at this
Recognizing the unusually large crowd, Extension Council
Chairperson Mary Ann Johnson opened the floor to speakers,
imposing a strict three-minute per person time limit.
Over 14 people took the opportunity to voice their concerns,
though not many could complete their thoughts in three
Each speaker showed support for the eliminated employees
and questioned the actions taken by the board.
"I believe you unfairly judged people," said
Nigel Adkins of Edgerton. "An injustice has been
Hal Swaney of the Platte County Farm Bureau questioned
not only the termination, but the legality of the closed
session at which the termination was decided upon.
"I have concerns whether the closed session followed
the Sunshine Laws," Swaney said. "I would like
Diana Milne, human development specialist at the Extension
office, also questioned the legality of the proceedings.
"This board is bound by legal standards," she
read in a prepared statement, "and I believe there
were breaches of those standards by the Extension as business
Johnson refrained from commenting on legal issues, saying:
"We're not going to discuss if we've done things
She did admit that the concerns of the citizens were legitimate.
"People have a right to ask questions and they
were able to do so," she said. "But there are
two sides to every story and [they] have only heard one."
Stating legal reasons, Johnson declined to share the board's
reasons behind the terminations.
"We can't discuss personnel problems. We're not
supposed to do that."
She continued, "The board, of course, is trying
to do what we feel is best for Extension in Platte County.
We felt this was the way we had to do it."
The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the Extension
Council board officers will be the first Monday in August.
Johnson suggested that citizens with concerns submit them
in writing to the Extension.