Monday, April 23, 2012

Wildlife Division seeks to quiet job reassignment rumors

With the job shuffling of two indicted Ohio Division of Wildlife officials some members of the public are asking if the employees are really applying elbow grease or have been placed in “make work” positions.

It’s most certainly the former, says the Wildlife Division chief, Scott Zody.
What’s more, Zody also says, the rearrangement of who is temporarily in command of the agency’s District Five (southwest Ohio) office is no big deal either.

For that matter neither is the fact that the Adams County wildlife officer is now in Meigs County is of any significance; rather, just a routine assignment request. Zody says.

As for who is in charge of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Parks and Recreation Division, the status hasn’t changed, either.

At issue in the first instance is the job status of Todd Haines - the agency’s District Five supervisor - and Michelle Ward-Tackett, Wildlife’s human resources manager.

Both are under indictment in the so-called “Brown County Five” matter. Each is awaiting an appeal before the Ohio State Supreme Court as are three now-retired agency officials.

While the matter of the five current and former Wildlife Division officials is pending before the state supremes, Haines and Ward-Tackett have left - at least temporarily - their previous jobs.

“They have both been reassigned to other duties on a temporary basis - Todd is providing assistance in the Central Office Wildlife Management section under the direction of Dave Scott, and Shelly has been working in the Department Human Resources Office but is providing HR services to the (Wildlife) Division,” says Scott Zody, the Wildlife Division’s chief.

Thus, no decision has been made “relative to Mr. Haines or Ms. Ward-Tackett’s status,” Zody says.

“Both Todd and Shelly are working in non-supervisory positions but at the same time providing much needed assistance in both of their areas of expertise,” Zody says. “Believe me, there is plenty of work for both.”

Regarding the Parks and Recreation Division chief’s job, Zody says that no permanent posting exists. Rather, the Natural Resources Department’s deputy director - Glen Cobb - is also serving as that agency’s acting chief, Zody says as well.

As for the District Five supervisory role the agency’s Dave Kohler was initially put in as that post’s acting district manager back in January, Zody says.

“But since he has been promoted to a Wildlife Management position in (the) Central Office, we need to appoint a new acting (district manager)- that appointment is pending approval with the department,” Zody says.

In looking at Adams County’s one-time wildlife officer, Chris Gilkey, he has not been re-assigned, Zody says.

“He chose to transfer to an open spot in Meigs County per the FOP contract,” Zody says. “Chris has been an excellent county officer, and while I am sorry to see him leave Adams County, he will continue to be an asset for the Division in his new duties in Meigs County.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

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