County postpones HR Director hire a third time

On Thursday, Oct. 12, The Lander County Commission Meeting discussed the hiring of two individuals for a position within the county. Commissioners dealt with two very different reactions to each agenda item. The first was quickly approved for Cynthia Benson for hire in the position of Fiscal Officer. The commission decided to re-advertise the Human Resources (HR) Director position rather than hire Deonilla Fuller to fill it.

Benson has been with the county for 11 years and has worked in accounts payable during that time. Keith Westengard stated, “She is the perfect fit for the position.”

Lander County resident Noliena Castellanos read a letter during public comment, “The county hired people who should not have passed the background check. One [was] hired with full knowledge that they were not qualified for the position and in the end was praised, given huge raises and yet was not meeting the needs the position required. Promises were made in regards to assistance and training but that did not work out. Thanks to the individual having a good sense of ethics and seeing the mistake being made, they took it upon themselves to resign from the position. Which leads me wonder if they would have ever been demoted or let go by the county?”

After a discussion on whether to hire Fuller, the board decided to re-advertise for the HR Director job a third time. The commission felt that the applicants needed a more thorough look before promoting Fuller into the position.

Lander County Executive Director Keith Westengard told the commission, “As you know, we have been in an HR search for many, many, many months. We have had applications from California to New York. All of those applications were in the private sector. We did offer the job to one individual who ended up turning it down.”

Westengard continued, “We advertised a second time and had several people reapply, and we did get some more applications, all from out of state. Nilla (Fuller) has been helping out with the position since the previous HR director left. After an interview, we decided to offer her the position.”

Commissioner Doug Mills said he’d spoken with department heads who supported the decision.

Commissioner Patsy Waits wanted to have it on the record that the qualifications for a position like the HR Director were essential. Waits said, “I think we have done our due diligence with our advertising and we just haven’t had the applicants. Our new person is going to have a lot of training.”

Fuller is undertaking a 10-month professional certification program at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Commissioner Sean Bakker stated, “I think Nilla (Fuller) would be a good fit and will get the training moving forward, but I did hear that there were qualified applicants who applied in town.”

Westengard explained, “They were all private sector HR. They were involved in the first set of interviews with three HR professionals from Elko, Winnemucca, the mines, myself and a representative from the District Attorney office….They did reapply and the decision was made to not re-interview them based on the previous interviews.”

During public comment, Tina Bisiaux stated, “I interviewed in the first set of applications, but for your information, I have a masters degree in HR management and have lived in the community for 29 years. I applied for the job and they did not bring me in for an interview the second time.”

The board voted to re-advertise for the position of HR Director. Mills gave the sole dissenting vote.