Archive for Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Embattled solid waste coordinator resigns post

October 3, 2007

Leavenworth County Commissioners unanimously voted last week to accept a letter of resignation from solid waste coordinator Debbie McRill.

The resignation is effective Oct. 23.

McRill, who has been involved in the county's solid waste department and transfer station for more than 10 years before being appointed department director in January was at the center of controversy after a published account that relied on anonymous sources alleged she was involved in a personal relationship with 3rd District Commissioner Dean Oroke, an elected official and direct supervisor.

McRill said by phone Monday the rumors were "probably untrue" and said of her resignation, "This is not anything controversial. It's something that's my decision and something I've been planning for a long time."

Reached for comment, Tuesday, Oroke, who recently announced he would not seek re-election in 2008, denied any connection between McRill's resignation and a personal relationship.

"She has been under a tremendous amount of pressure since she was appointed temporary director under allegations that she did not receive the job because of her merits," Oroke said. "But I think the record stands for itself."

Oroke pointed to the fact that under the former solid waste coordinator, the department was "not in good graces with KDHE" and had a number of violations by the county's worker's compensation carrier.

"Under (McRill's) direction, the last report from KERIT and KDHE had no violations," he said.

McRill began her association with the county as part of a small, volunteer recycling group in Leavenworth. The position that led to a paying job when plans for a transfer station were approved by the state in 1995.

Before that, Leavenworth County residents outside of city limits were responsible for their own waste removal.

"It's a long story," McRill said. "Lansing-Leavenworth formed a committee ... which started all the recycling in the county. It's grown from there."

"Now this is a good facility," she added. "It's one of the finest, most integrated facilities in the state of Kansas."

Lansing resident Clyde Huffman, who serves as president of the Solid Waste Committee said, "I just hate to see Debbie go. She's been in it since we started in the early '90s. I think she's tired and probably worn out, but I think she's done a fabulous job."

Asked about her future plans, McRill said she had no employment plans as of yet and would like to travel, particularly to southern California where her son attends Pepperdine University.

In unanimously accepting McRill's resignation, the commission also approved the promotion of operations supervisor Tony Turner until a permanent replacement is hired.

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