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Grundy County Board selects new administrator, HR director

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

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The Grundy County Board filled two positions at its meeting Tuesday evening. Heidi Miller, Grundy County’s director/planner of the Land Use Department, is the county’s new interim administrator, and Debra Johnson is the new human resources director.

Miller’s full-time position as interim administrator was approved for six months, with a cutoff date of March 31. The county has been without an administrator since Chris Wittkamp left the position suddenly Sept. 17. She had been administrator for five months.

This is not the first time Miller has served as interim administrator. She and board Secretary Sandy Pommier split the position for a three-month period in 2011 after Dan Duffy left for a position with Minooka.

Miller said she looks forward to taking on the responsibilities.

“Chairman Severson had asked me if I would serve in the position,” she said. “I have been with the county almost eight years, and it has awesome elected officials and department heads ... It’s an exciting opportunity.”

Miller will keep her current position in the Land Use Department, saying the responsibilities of the position dwindle during the winter months. Her first responsibilities as administrator, she said, will include implementing the budget, begin working with the risk management plan and implementing any changes that may occur in the budget.

A new human resources director was also hired at the meeting. Debra Johnson, of Morris, will begin the part-time position as soon as she is able. Johnson currently works in human resources at a Morris nursing home. She replaces Dan Hoppe, who was fired from his position Sept. 13.

Hoppe had served in the position for six months. Vickie Geiger, chairman of the committee that fired him, said the reason for the termination was he was not a good fit for the position.

The position has been a tumultuous one recently. Former HR Director Denise Kasper left in November. The county then hired Lindsay Ferguson, formerly of Morris Hospital, to a part-time position in February, but she quit after one week. Hoppe was hired as her replacement on a full-time basis.

Johnson was not present at Tuesday’s meeting and was not available for comment.

Also announced at the meeting was that former county employee Linda Ragan will return in the human resources division to assist Johnson, and Land Use employee Cheryl Wardell was promoted to assistant Land Use director.

Severson said he planned the changes to combine the best people while saving money. By allowing Miller to remain in her current position while serving as administrator, the county will save around $30,000 in the next six months.

And since Johnson accepted the HR position part time, the county will save around $50,000 of salary and benefits combined. Severson said the taxpayers will save between $70,000 and $100,000.

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