LACONIA — The director of nursing at the Belknap County Nursing Home has called on the County Commission to reinstate Mathew Logue as administrator of the nursing home as soon as possible, maintaining that it is only a matter of time before he is reinstated by the new commissioners when they take office next month.
''I seek reconsideration of having him return to that post now,'' said Diane Roberts, nursing director, who said that it would be ''in the best interests of all employee at this point,'' to have Logue, who was fired in late August, back on the job.
Commissioner Steve Nedeau asked, ''What do you say to the residents and employees over there who have signed a letter saying they don't want that man back?''
Roberts said, ''We need someone in there at this time. It puts us at risk not to have an administrator there. I think it's time that the battle ends,'' said Roberts, who said that now that acting nursing home administrator Charlotte Flanagan has left it's time to move on.
''I supported Charlotte in that role, but it's not my place to be there,'' said Roberts, who indicated that she will soon be on medical leave and out for a few months.
She made her plea shortly after Belknap County Administrator Debra Shackett said that the state Department of Health and Human Services called her office recently to verify who the administrator at the home is. She said that she told the state that Logue is currently listed as the administrator and is on leave ''but will likely be back.''
Two weeks ago the commissioners filed an appeal with the New Hampshire Supreme Court of the Belknap Convention's Personnel Committee's decision to reinstate Logue as administrator of the Belknap County Nursing Home.
The appeal, filed on Dec. 11, maintains that the Personnel Committee, which at the time of its decision in October to reinstate Logue was composed of Rep. Coltette Worsman (R-Meredith), Rep. Robert Greemore (R-Meredith) and Rep. Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) ''ignored limits on its statutory authority as well as overwhelming and uncontroverted evidence,'' which the commission had introduced at a hearing held by the committee on Logue's appeal of his dismissal.
The filing of the appeal took place despite the expressed intention of incoming County Commissioners Burchell and Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) to pull the plug on an appeal of the Logue personnel matter. The pair will take office on January 7 and will constitute a new majority.
Logue is currently on administrative leave, with pay, pending the outcome of an appeal of the committee's decision.
Commissioner Nedeau, who earlier this month announced his decision to resign effective Jan. 1, was adamant about sticking with the appeal, but Commission Chairman John Thomas said that he wanted to wait and have Commissioner Ed Philpot involved in the decision. He said that Philpot will be returning to Laconia shortly after Christmas and that he will schedule a meeting then. Both Philpot and Thomas will be stepping down from the commission next month.
In late August the commission terminated Logue for what it termed willful insubordination, lack of cooperation and inability to perform his duties in a timely manner, claiming that he was "untruthful and unreliable'' in dealing with county officials. Logue appealed his termination to the Personnel Committee, which held a day-long public hearing on October 6, at which attorney Mark Broth of Manchester presented the case against Logue and Logue spoke in own defense.
Four days later the committee voted unanimously to reinstate Logue, after finding his defense of the charges against him to be "credible and persuasive.''
A motion for a rehearing filed by attorney Broth was denied by the Personnel Committee.
The appeal to the Supreme Court will add to the legal bills faced by the county, which were the subject of much discussion by the county convention's Executive Committee when it met last week to take up requests for budget transfers and turned down a request by the commission for $33,000 to pay unpaid legal bills.
Shackett told commissioners last night that if the legal expenses are not paid by the time the auditors start their work early next year it will result in line items being over-expended, which would appear to be in violation of a temporary injunction obtained by the convention in Belknap County Superior Court last August which prohibits the transfer of more than $300 between budget lines without approval of the Executive Committee.
The commissioners, however, have maintained that state statute 29:A:2 which describes the process which will be followed in the defense and indemnification of county officers and employees in the event of any claim or civil action against the county does not require an appropriation and provides that the county ''shall defray all costs of such representation or defense, to be paid from funds not otherwise appropriated.''
Shackett also said that she is working with Executive Committee Vice Chairman Herb Vadney (R-Meredith) to set up a meeting of the committee to handle transfers relating to payroll accounts at the nursing home and a water and sewer bill.
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