WATSEKA — The Iroquois County Board voted 15-1 Tuesday to recommend the removal of the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department's embattled administrator.
But some health department employees objected.
Mary Cahoe, the agency's home health coordinator, and Cary Hagen, human resources and support services coordinator, voiced support for Administrator Doug Corbett and urged the Iroquois County Board to reconsider.
Hagen also spoke Monday night to the Ford County Board, which must also approve the measure. Hagen noted that a few of her co-workers have spoken out against Corbett only because he has held them accountable to their jobs.
"In my opinion, they are willing to destroy him and his reputation, all in the name of self," Hagen said. "It's very troubling how a few employees can dictate the future of the health department and destroy a human being."
Hagen's public statements — along with the Iroquois County Board's vote — came a few weeks after two health department nurses met in closed session with the board of health. The board of health subsequently voted to suspend Corbett's authority to discipline his staff, while also voting to send a survey to all employees to "better evaluate" their work environment, morale and goals.
"They stripped Mr. Corbett of his duties because it was said that (the nurses) were fearful of Mr. Corbett and the repercussions that would potentially happen," Hagen said.
Hagen said some employees now feel they do not have to perform their duties because "they know that Mr. Corbett's hands are tied."
Hagen said Monday night that she feels the Iroquois County Board's action is premature. She said she feels the employee survey should be completed before any action is taken against Corbett, but the survey has yet to be sent.
Corbett has been a target of criticism by Iroquois County officials in recent months, most recently over a $123,000 contract the agency awarded to the husband of a health department employee for the installation of solar panels on the agency's offices.
Last week, the Iroquois County Board's finance committee voted unanimously to recommend to the public health board and the Ford County Board to remove Corbett as administrator of the health department in the "most expedient way possible." The full Iroquois County Board approved the committee's recommendation with the only dissenting vote coming from Jean Hiles of Watseka. Three members were absent when the vote occurred, and Chairman Rod Copas did not cast a vote.
The Ford County Board discussed the matter briefly during its meeting Monday, but no action was taken. Bowen said he has set up a meeting for Thursday between himself and Copas and the state's attorneys from each county to "try to get the county boards on the same page."
Paxton Record correspondent Sandy Coffey contributed to this report.