Grand Lake Rec District general manager resigns as board squabbles
March 7, 2008
During a special meeting at the Grand Lake Metropolitan Recreation District Thursday evening, General Manager Bill Winfield, PGA, announced his reasons for leaving his post.
“I’ve chosen on my terms that I’m moving on,” Winfield told district staff members, board members and about 14 constituents.
He had turned in his resignation Feb. 27.
“I’ve been fighting for the district to do the right thing, but I feel like I’m at the end of my fight now,” he said.
The role of the district’s first general manager has been an uneasy one in spite of district accomplishments as the management structure of board directing manager to manage staff was never fully respected, according to Winfield.
Winfield did not point fingers at any one or more board members, but he indicated that the recreation district struggled with the change of allowing a general manager take control of district operations.
One district resident asked Winfield if there were anyway to change his mind, to which Winfield said there was not.
Citizen Ken Lund blamed the board for their loss of an exemplary employee.
“If you can’t get behind a guy like this after the job he has done, then you need to look at your own credentials,” he said.
“I have done a lot of self evaluation as president of this board,” said board President John Gould. “I’m proud of a lot of things this district has accomplished, but the functionality of this board I’m not.”
District residents inquired of board members further, citing “downtown” rumors about possible misappropriation of funds on the part of the board, at which point, Gould set the record straight.
February discussions and research among board members regarding the budget post-adoption led to the board president inviting the district’s auditor and attorney to review district accounting processes.
“We had discussions, input and review, and everything was found to be on the up and up,” Gould said, “consistent with the way we do budgets and have done budgets. Money was accounted for appropriately.”
Board members Tom Goodfellow and Jeremy Kennell in their own thorough comb of the budget had concluded that it was being presented in a manner that misrepresents actual individual department budgets, the two board members explained.
“In my mind, the way the budget is presented is unethical to taxpayers,” Kennell said.
A certain e-mail regarding the budget from Kennell sent to Winfield and the District Administrator Bruce Crutcher sometime in February, which was not read aloud during Thursday night’s meeting, was found to be one source of “internal conflict” among board members.
Tom Jenkins, who participated in the meeting via speakerphone, said Kennell’s e-mail “attacked and questioned” staff members inappropriately. “An apology needs to be given to these two employees,” Jenkins said, “and the district as a whole. It’s my opinion these members are responsible for this travesty.”
Jenkins asked that Kennell and Goodfellow “submit their resignation to this board effective immediately.”
Tim Thorpe asked for apologies from the two board members, and a letter from John Hayen, representing the “Grand Lake Men’s Club,” also called for Kennell’s and Goodfellow’s resignation.
Given the floor at the end of the meeting, both Goodfellow and Kennell declined to comment further.
At the close of the meeting, Gould said he could see the Grand Lake’s recreation district future as a bright one, in spite of recent setbacks. He remembers six years ago when he joined the board, he said, borrowing money to pay payroll.
In regards to Winfield’s resignation, Gould said he is “saddened and devastated.”
“He was a wonderful employee. We owe him a sincere debt of gratitude. He’ll be missed and we’re at a loss for it.”
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