By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
The Seward County Activity Center now has a new director.
After former director Janet Lewis resigned in early 2010, Linda Johnson was then promoted to the position in an interim capacity, and at Monday’s commission meeting, Johnson was moved up to director.
County administrator Mary Bloomer said the commission discussed the issue last summer before the Seward County Five State Fair.
“Linda Johnson was offered the position as interim director,” she said. “You wanted to see how things worked out. She is doing two positions – one as maintenance and one as interim director.”
Bloomer said the commission at that time wanted to look at how things worked out for both Johnson and the county, and Bloomer said Johnson is satisfied with the arrangement.
“I’m asking at this time that you waive the hiring freeze to compensate her in that position and to name her as director,” the administrator said.
Commission chairman Jim Rice said the plan was to look at the work situation for six months. Human resources director April Warden said in a memo to the commission that Johnson has been in the interim position for nine months, serving in both maintenance and as a director.
Rice praised the work Johnson has done thus far.
“I have heard nothing but good comments about Linda, her attitude and how she worked into fulfilling both positions out there,” he said. “When she’s not in the office doing paperwork, she’s out on the grounds performing some kind of maintenance project. I think it’s worked out well for us and also for her. We are down one employee out there, but she’s been able to compensate for that by serving as a maintenance worker in addition to running the entire grounds out there.”
Commissioner C.J. Wettstein said he believes the promotion is a good move and Johnson has done a good job, but he did have some concerns about the pay upgrade.
“We made a fairly sizeable increase when we made her interim director,” he said. “Now, we’re making another sizeable increase. We’ve got the hiring freeze. I have nothing bad to say. I just think that maybe the increase would be hitting too hard on it.”
Bloomer explained the increase in Johnson’s pay.
“We’re suggesting that she put in the step and grade classification system one step below the other department heads,” she said. “We’re suggesting she be at Range 23, Step A. For the balance of this year, her increase would be about $5,500. It’s an increase of $3.65 an hour.”
That increase puts Johnson’s pay at $20.99 an hour. Warden’s memo said the promotion comes with the understanding that Johnson will still perform the duties as a director and in maintenance. Johnson will be compensated as an hourly employee.
The commission voted 4-1, with Wettstein opposed, to approve an exception to the county’s hiring freeze resolution and approve a promotion for Johnson from interim director to director of the Activity Center with an increase in pay pursuant to administrative guidelines in the step and grade classification system.