C’dale utility director back at work after poaching incident
Carbondale Utility Director Ed Fortner is back on the job after two weeks of unpaid administrative leave. Fortner’s future was uncertain after he was found guilty of illegally poaching a deer from his back porch, using a town truck and employee to discard the remains and involving other utility department employees in the incident.He was also under investigation for wrongfully firing an employee. An independent investigation conducted by Mountain States Employers Council found that Fortner did act inappropriately, but Carbondale Town Manager Tom Baker said the behavior was not grounds for dismissal.Baker also affirmed the firing of utility department employee Tom McClelland.”The Town views Mr. Fortner’s actions as a violation of his job duties as a supervisor. And, Mr. Fortner has taken full responsibility and shown genuine remorse for his conduct. Clearly the inappropriate conduct needs to be remedied,” wrote Baker in a summary of findings from the investigation. “This is the first instance of discipline and does not warrant termination.”Baker admitted it has been a trying time for the Town of Carbondale during the investigation. He sought advise from human resources attorneys for the City of Denver to see what happens in the Front Range when something like this occurs. He found that the disciplinary action would simply involve a letter in a file about the incident. In assessing the gravity of the situation, he said more disciplinary action was warranted in Fortner’s case.Besides being put on unpaid administrative leave, Fortner will be required to attend classes in the areas of supervisory skills, organizational development, and recruitment of employees. Fortner will also be required to work with a facilitator or mediator selected by the town to help bring order to the workplace by facilitating communication, addressing employee concerns and to improve his supervisory skills and performance, said Baker.”The proof is going to be in the pudding. Ed has shown sincere remorse for his lack of judgment and now he’s got to convince his colleagues,” said Baker.Fortner over sees a department of 11 employees and he said he hasn’t been in touch with them since he was put on leave. He returned to work on Friday and said he wants to put the incident behind him and get back to work managing the town’s water and waste water systems.”This is a public health position that I take very seriously. I take full responsibility for my inappropriate actions,” Fortner said. “I have learned some very important lessons during this process including humility, accountability and the fact that I am a town official and should act accordingly.”Fortner said he agreed with most of the conclusions of the investigation which found that he inappropriately used a town vehicle and employee for personal matters, inappropriately involved subordinates in a personal affair which involved an illegal activity, failed to respect the wishes of his subordinates in discussing personal matters and attempted to influence his subordinates into not talking to others about the incident.”Obviously there has to be some bridges mended here. I’m a very humble and optimistic,” Fortner said on his first day back at work. “I’ve got the good of the town and utilities at heart and I’m more than ready to move on.”
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Imagine Glenwood and The City of Glenwood Springs is slated to host a virtual town hall at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 11.