A longtime Antelope County official resigned unexpectedly during a heated supervisors’ meeting on Tuesday.
Zoning Administrator Char Carpenter verbally resigned after Supervisor Greg Koinzan spent several minutes shouting at her with accusations of not following procedure or reading the handbook. The other supervisors sat mute and stared at Koinzan during the outburst.
Carpenter, who has served in the part-time appointed role since November 1999, remained composed until she slid Koinzan her paperwork and told him, “Finish it. I quit.” Carpenter then left the meeting.
Carpenter confirmed to the Antelope County News that her resignation was effective immediately and that she removed the last of personal items from her office in the courthouse on Wednesday morning. Carpenter was also responsible for the county’s 911 coordination, flood plain administration and hazard mitigation.
At Tuesday’s meeting, supervisors were discussing a noise study of the Prairie Breeze wind turbines when the resignation occurred. Carpenter said several complaints have been filed on the noise levels, including by Dave and Judy Wilcox, Paul and Stephanie Hecht, Susan Berg and Gary Borer.
With the window of opportunity closing for a noise study during the winter season, Invenergy LLC officials said they hired an independent company who will begin a study within the next two weeks. They will set up microphones at different residences of individuals who have filed noise complaints.
Regulations state that the noise level of turbines must not exceed 50 decibels, which is about the same sound level as a refrigerator.
On Feb. 16, the supervisors asked Carpenter to meet with the individuals who filed complains and to make a recommendation on how to proceed. At Tuesday’s meeting, Carpenter presented the supervisors with a recommendation to wait until the noise study was complete and then hire a third party to conduct a peer review of the completed results, rather than hiring a company to complete the same study.
Koinzan accused Carpenter of several things, including failing to attend those meetings in their entirety. Carpenter conceded that she did leave one of the meetings early to meet with Antelope County Attorney Joe Abler.
Koinzan continued to shout at Carpenter for several minutes and said she was not following the handbook. Koinzan was then given a section of the handbook and told she was following it, but he continued yelling at Carpenter until she resigned and walked out of the meeting.
Chairman Jerry Schwager immediately stood from the table and ordered Koinzan to go to Carpenter’s office and apologize, but Koinzan refused. Koinzan reiterated his complaints about Carpenter and said, “I get hot when people don’t do their jobs.” Schwager responded, “You think you go hot here? If she quits, you haven’t even seen hot.”
Supervisor LeRoy Kerkman said a similar situation occurred “four or five years ago and it all came back around.” However, Carpenter said on Wednesday that she no longer works for Antelope County.
Carpenter, who has a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice, has worked with county zoning since the late 1990s and helped bring zoning regulations to the county.
The part-time position will be filled via an appointment by the Antelope County supervisors.
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