Relax, It's Mielke time

If the word “retreat” conjures up a positive image in your mind, well, you’ve never covered local government.

In that world, “retreat” means “a time to sequester officials in a room, away from distractions, and make them listen to what they need to know.”

The Board of County Commissioners had a retreat Feb. 3. They met with County Administrator Bill Barron, Deputy Administrator Glenn Olson, budget director Jim Dickman, human resources director Francine Reis, economic development manager Kelly Sills and Mary Keltz, who runs the county’s public information office.

For three hours, they sat around a table in a small conference room at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center.

After presentations from Dickman, Olson and Reis, commissioners got to bring up issues they want to tackle this year.

Commissioner Tom Mielke brought up vacation time. He said employees don’t take vacation days, instead letting them accumulate so they can get paid for them when they leave the county.

Commissioner Marc Boldt had another theory as to why employees might not take their allotted vacation. In the prosecuting attorney’s office, Boldt told Mielke, people would love to use vacation days. But there’s inadequate coverage.

“We’d have to hire more prosecuting attorneys,” Boldt said.

But vacation days are necessary for an employee to relax and recharge, Mielke said.

“What if they go over the edge? Then we are paying their medical,” Mielke said.

Barron lightened the mood.

“We had Wyrick,” he said, referring to the recently retired Curt Wyrick, who ran the office’s civil unit. “He was over the edge. He worked just fine.”

Mielke laughed.

“I’ve been accused of going over the edge,” he said.

After the retreat, the group headed to Billygan’s Roadhouse for lunch.

After lunch, Boldt and Commissioner Steve Stuart went to work at the Public Service Center.

Maybe Mielke needed to relax and recharge. He had a beer with his lunch. After three hours of work, he was done for the day.

(Barron said he did not put the beer on the taxpayers’ tab.)

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