Board delays action on calls to unseat Zeglin
County supervisors met in closed session for over an hour on citizen calls for board chair Tim Zeglin to be put out of office but are expected to await the legal review of the highway commissioner's complaints against Zeglin before taking action on any of the charges. Monday evening's closed meeting was intended to discuss the board's legal strategies in the face of at least three citizen complaints calling for Zeglin to be removed from the board, according to corporation counsel Rick Niemeier.
The criticism of Zeglin came following his comments during a public hearing on opening county highways to ATVs and UTVs. The board opted to wait for the perspective of an attorney looking at highway commissioner Al Rinka's complaint that Zeglin "defamed" him before acting on any of the complaints, Niemeier said. The complaints from Rinka and county residents fall into different legal categories and are therefore handled separately, according to Niemieer. Zeglin was not allowed to attend the closed session, which was run by vice chair John Aasen. The assessment of Rinka's complaint is expected to be completed sometime after Feb. 5, Niemeier said. Among the options available to the board is to do nothing about the citizen complaints, or to take the question up again after seeing whether Zeglin violated county policy with regard to Rinka. All three citizen complaints call for Zeglin to be removed from the board for his allegations during a Jan. 8 public hearing that Rinka and county economic development and tourism director Rob Grover inappropriately "orchestrated" support for ATV access to county roads. Each complainant said backing for the measure came simply from those supporting the idea. "Mr. Zeglin's irrational false statements and bully tactics were a blatant attempt to undermine the integrity of two county officials... and to undermine the integrity of the entire county board and its employees," says a complaint from Stephen James Sacia. "The potential harm to public trust is immeasurable so long as Mr. Zeglin remains the county chair." Similar protests came from Alan Pogreba and Paul Jacobson. In a Jan. 21 monthly chair report, Zeglin reiterated what he said was "abuse of job position and conflict of interest" by Rinka and Grover. He said he spoke "on behalf of the board" to say the two should follow board policy decisions not attempt to set them. Rinka has said Zeglin's remarks were "defamatory" and that he was only responding to the wishes of ATV and UTV enthusiasts. Grover said it is his job to advance ideas that could increase county tourism.
The latest action on the ATV question is a recommendation to ease how riders can get county approval to set up specific routes. During the board's open session, sheriff Brett Semingson praised county human services and cooperation among law enforcement agencies for finding safe an 18-month-old Eleva child. The mother had been denied custody of the child because of drug use, but traveled to North Dakota with the toddler before being arrested over the weekend. Semingson also asked county residents to "consider the human factor" after several Facebook posts of a fatal crash on Highway 93 Monday appeared before the victimÕs relatives were informed. "It was really frustrating," he said. He also released a new jail population report that details the various categories that require special jail space or staff time. He said 10 to 12 sets of circumstances, such as drug withdrawal or suicide threats, can tie up resources. In other action, the board:
•Reappointed Anthony Skroch of Whitehall to the Veteran Service Commission. Zeglin said that in discussing the reappointment with Skroch he learned that during the Vietnam War, Skroch jumped from a helicopter to lighten its load and keep it from crashing. In the process he broke both hips, an impairment that still limits him physically.
•Approved adding to the budget a $80,000 state grant to hire a dementia expert who would be based in Trempealeau County and serve Trempealeau, Buffalo and Pepin counties. Supervisor Jeanne Nutter said competition for the money was keen and the county's Aging, Disability Resource Center should be "proud" of its success.