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Schuylkill County News

Boots Troubled By Comments Critical of County Administrator

He scoffed at the idea that the Courthouse needed a clean sweep.

Schuylkill County Commissioner Boots Hetherington didn’t appreciate some public comments last week that were critical of the County Administrator.

During the Public Comment portion of the Jan. 10 Board Meeting at the Courthouse, regular Commissioners critic Melinda Deibert spoke negatively about County Administrator Gary Bender.

Deibert was remarking on the Courthouse needing to clean house of its personnel from the recent turbulent years, filled with still ongoing legal proceedings. She noted how many of the people who are named in the infamous Jane Doe v. Schuylkill County lawsuit are now no longer part of County government.

Former Commissioner George Halcovage wasn’t re-elected and in a final act, was barred from entering the Courthouse after a new, unverified claim against him was reportedly made to County officials.

Solicitor Glenn Roth left that job. And another Solicitor Al Marshall recently retired from the job.

The County’s been through several Human Resources directors who are also named in the lawsuit.

That leaves, essentially, Hetherington and Bender.

Well, Hetherington didn’t appreciate Deibert’s comments last week and spoke about it publicly at the end of the meeting.

The former Commissioners Chairman said Bender “served me well” during his 3½ years in office.

“He’s done an outstanding job,” Hetherington said.

And he wasn’t too appreciative of the comments made earlier in the meeting, either.

“I find it very troubling, to say the least,” he added.

The truth is, however, that as much as this new board of Commissioners would love to believe that the “nonsense” is behind them because Halcovage is no longer in office, it’s simply not the case.

That Jane Doe lawsuit, which is essentially stalled out in a federal court at the moment, doesn’t just involve Halcovage and his alleged behavior.

Another major portion of that lawsuit involves how the County government allegedly retaliated against the Jane Doe complainants.

And the Consent Decree the County agreed to with the US Dept. of Justice has as much to do with how the local government reacted to the initial complaints and their follow-up actions as it does with keeping Halcovage at bay, while he was at the Courthouse.

So, even though 2024 marked the beginning of a new era with the County Commissioners with Larry Padora now seated as Chairman, the troubles of the past are still very much a present-day issue for them.

Until these issues are truly behind the Commissioners and Schuylkill County, criticisms of everyone involved are likely to continue.

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  1. James EISENHART Jr.

    January 17, 2024 at 4:06 am

    Interesting:public comment is what the people are thinking. And it is acccurate that for every one speaking out,there are at least five(5) that feel the same way. I know I think the ex Bi-Polar Controller as other Row Officers referred to he ,Is wrong on several levels,Padora did promise Ray Jones a job. Most think it’s Bender’s job,time will tell.

  2. Chris

    January 17, 2024 at 6:56 am

    I’ve heard Larry Wittig or Republican Party Chairman Howie Merrick are contenders for the county administrator job. Either would be an interesting choice, given their histories. Guess time will tell, for sure.

  3. Val

    January 17, 2024 at 8:36 am

    Canary is absolutely right that “cleaning that swamp” is necessary. But.. all we hear is Boots-Boots-Boots/Bender-Bender-Bender. Is it because Boots was a Chairman? Halcovage said that the other TWO commissioners were aware what was going on, not just ONE. It looks like Mr. Hess is coming out all white and fluffy,like Teddy Bear, his name is not mentioned for “cleaning”.Can you tell why please?

    • Canary Commenter

      January 18, 2024 at 12:05 am

      He voted against actions that might be considered retaliatory in the eyes of the lawsuit and DOJ. And yes, Boots gets all the attention here because, as they say, heavy is the head that wears the crown.

      • Val

        January 18, 2024 at 11:08 am

        Can you tell the date when he voted against actions? Was it during one of the commissioners’ meetings? That’s quite impressive considering they normally vote “aye/aye/aye” on almost everything.

  4. Pastor Eddy

    January 17, 2024 at 3:33 pm

    Wow, Pottsville. Not the county seat, more like the county punchline.

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