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Parks director put on leave, pool on target

Scott Green, longtime executive director of the Northern Wasco County Parks and Recreation District, was put on paid administrative leave Aug. 4 pending investigation of a personnel matter.

The district hired an attorney who specializes in employment law to conduct an investigation of the matter, said the district’s attorney, Tom Peachey.

Peachey stressed the administrative leave has no bearing on the pool replacement project, which is proceeding as expected. Two bids to demolish the existing pool are being considered now.

He added the board had the good fortune to hire, on a contract basis, Karl Cozad, former executive director of the district, to both manage the district and oversee the pool project. He is being paid $95 an hour for his services.

Cozad said he’s working on an as-needed basis and has put in 25 to 35 hours a week so far. He worked a bit in late July and was formally hired as an interim director on Aug. 4.

Green, who makes $89,931 a year, was hired as executive director in December 2005. He told The Chronicle, “I was instructed yesterday not to talk to anyone about this until after things got figured out.”

Peachey was expecting an update this week from the attorney conducting the investigation, Jill Goldsmith of Portland. She also was hired the day Green was put on leave.

Goldsmith is interviewing people and inspecting records, and will be making a report to the board later, Peachey said. He said he didn’t have a timeframe for when the investigation might conclude.

“She came highly recommended and she’s very competent and she was a labor attorney” at several sizeable Portland law firms, Peachey said.

She is charging an hourly fee of $195 for her services.

“It’s an expense that has to be incurred,” he said. Peachey said an outside attorney was hired because “the fact of the matter is I work closely with Scott Green ... and have a close working relationship with him, so that would be a little hard.”

He said Green has “been a long-serving, valued employee of the district.”

Peachey said he could not say when the personnel issue was raised.

The board has held a number of executive sessions over the summer to conduct his annual evaluation.

Peachey could not say whether the extended evaluation was connected to the personnel matter.

Cozad, who served as executive director here from 1990 to 2004, had just retired last March from serving as parks and recreation director from the city of Whitefish, Mont.

Ironically, Cozad oversaw the project 25 years ago when the district replaced the pool “tub” and deck around it.

The underworkings of the original pool, dating to the 1930s, remained.

He recounted the contractor back then telling the district that the new pool and deck would last about 25 years, and that estimate has come to pass.

The current project is on track for a Memorial Day 2015 opening, Cozad said.

“We’re moving along on schedule. That is certainly the primary concern of the district.”

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