A grievance has been filed on behalf of the St. Francois County Road and Bridge Foreman who was terminated Thursday in an open session of the St. Francois County Commission.
Doug Evans confirmed a grievance had been filed on his behalf through the Teamsters Local 600, and he disputed allegations of unethical conduct and failure to cooperate with investigators.
“I feel that these accusations and implications by Mr. Burgess are quite unjust and unsubstantiated,” he said. “And one more remark, I have always been under the impression there was three county commissioners, and not one, and for the short time I’ve been foreman of St. Francois County, I worked for all three of the gentlemen.”
Brett Burgess called for the termination of Evans in an open session of the County Commission Thursday, accusing the long-time county employee of unethical conduct and failing to cooperate with Missouri Highway Patrol investigators.
In remarks following the open session, Burgess indicated Evans had been given two weeks to cooperate with investigators, but had not done so.
The Missouri Highway Patrol has been looking into allegations of misconduct by former County Commissioner Ron VarVera since April.
VarVera said he did not know about the investigation.
“I don’t know what to say,” he said. “As far as I know I am not under investigation for nothing, I don’t have no idea. I don’t know how to answer your question. I’m amazed and shocked.
“It’s shocking, gee I don’t know what to tell you.
“I know nothing.”
In the open session Thursday, Burgess said County Commissioners had witnessed Evans’ lack of cooperation. He also said Evans had admitted in statements to Burgess that he had helped conceal unethical practices as County Foreman of the Road and Bridge Crew.
“His statement has been corroborated with other testimonies and eye witness accounts of other county personnel,” Burgess said. “This lead foreman has also clearly demonstrated an unwillingness to cooperate with the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s special investigation and that has been witnessed by all three of us commissioners.”
Burgess acknowledged the County Commission is not a court of law and that suspects are innocent until proven guilty, but added that the Commission does not have to try unethical conduct in a court of law to act upon it.
After a lengthy discussion, County Commissioner Patrick Mullins and Presiding Commissioner Jim Henson joined Burgess in voting to terminate Evans from his position.
The County Commissioners also passed several other motions submitted by Burgess. One would hire the next foreman from outside the county roster. In asking that the hiring of a new foreman be made outside the county roster, Burgess said he did not have anyone in particular in mind. He also said he hoped the other two commissioners would play a “more vital” role than himself in the selection.
The third motion made both the foreman and assistant foreman position non-union and the last was to authorize sending a letter of warning to county employees that unethical or criminal conduct is grounds for immediate dismissal as is failure to cooperate with investigating agencies such as the Missouri Highway Patrol.