Weather Forecast


Commissioners appoint interim recorder, remove weed board member

Jay Elkin, County Commission chairman, leads a discussion on possibly changing the county recorder position from an elected to an appointed or hired role. A public hearing on the issue drew no members of the public Thursday. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)

A first public hearing on changing the Stark County recorder position from an elected to an appointed position was attended by no one Thursday.

The county commissioners are considering redesignating the role with current recorder Kathy Schwab resigning, but will only do so with the public's approval.

"I was really hoping to have more people from the public here to express their concerns or their dislikes and likes for this," Commissioner Jay Elkin said.

With no one from the public attending, the hearing was quickly closed and commissioners discussed among themselves their concerns about the position.

"If you look at the Century Code," Commissioner Ken Zander said, "You don't even need to have a high school education to have that position, and/or experience. You need to be a county resident essentially. There is a lot of technical work that needs to be done in there, along with the computer usage and knowledge and programs, and things like that."

He added, "It's becoming more and more difficult to get that kind of quality in that position."

Other North Dakota counties, Zander added, have made this change.

"I have talked to some of those people," he said, "and I feel it's the right time for us to do that, considering our current recorder has submitted her resignation."

Elkin concurred, emphasizing the importance of having a qualified person in the role.

"It takes a certain skill set in order to run any particular department within county government and especially that recorder's office," he said. "Attention to detail, understanding what the needs are over there."

He added, "That position probably should have been, rather than elected, needs to be an elected or an appointed position."

There are no plans to make similar changes with other county positions, Elkin said.

"We're just looking at the recorder's position at this moment," he said, "and that's only because Kathy announced her retirement."

The position will be advertised, with a three-day window for in-house promotions.

Commissioners appointed deputy recorder Kim Kasian to interim recorder, completing Schwab's term, which ends March 2018.

A second public hearing on redesignating the county recorder position will be held on Jan. 2 at Stark County Courthouse.

"I would really encourage the general public to come out here and discuss this issue," Elkin said.

Commissioners on Thursday also removed Daryl Zarka from the County Weed Board.

"We do have issues with some people not attending meetings," Commissioner Pete Kuntz said. "He's missed three meetings already in a row."

Having already discussed the matter with other weed board members, Kuntz brought the issue before the commission, which has the ultimate decision.

Kuntz advocated for the removal of Zarka because he has not been "faithfully attending the meetings."

"We had some very important meetings already, and he was not been there," he said. "And we've been catching a lot of backlash because of that from the general public."

Commissioner Russ Hoff questioned if Zarka should be allowed to finish his term, which expires in July 2020.

"I know there was health issues. And I know job issues. Sometimes you've got to figure that out," he said. "It was very tough years ago to find somebody for these boards."

Century Code requires the commissioners to remove board members for "repeated unexcused failures to attend meetings, for refusal to act as a board member, or for incapacity," Brittney Bornemann, assistant state attorney, explained.

There is already a resident interested in filling the role, Elkin said.

Only Hoff voted against removing Zarka from the board.