Letter alleges harassment at 911 center

BUCKHANNON – Upshur County Commissioners met in executive session this week about a recent complaint regarding the county E911 Communication Center’s operations.

However, no action was taken Thursday, when commissioners convened with Comm Center Director Steve Linger in a 20-minute executive session.

Commission President JC Raffety said he could not comment on the complaint because it is a personnel matter.

“I cannot comment on any aspect of the complaint,” Raffety said following the executive session. “I cannot comment beyond saying we had an executive session. I’m procluded by law from saying anything.”

“When we have a complaint, we investigate it and take it very seriously,” Commissioner Donnie Tenney added. Commissioners emerged from executive session and adjourned without making any comments or decisions.

Commissioners did, however, confirm the executive session was spurred by an email sent March 21 from someone supposedly named “Russ Stover” using the email address erasmusinwv2@yahoo.com. “Russ Stover” sent the message to Raffety and Commissioner Troy “Buddy” Brady, as well as The Inter-Mountain and The Record Delta.

The letter alleges that “there are practices at the Upshur County 911 Center that are unethical, illegal and may put the county into an actionable position vis-a-vis (sic) harassment and even criminal negligence.”

It says “rampant harassment of employees” is ongoing, usually in front of Linger, who has allegedly failed to correct the problem.

“Training is inadequate and trainers are negligent,” the email reads. “There is no managerial control over trainers.”

“Russ Stover” also accuses Linger of “(taking) over ten (sic) minutes (!) (sic)” to dispatch a call involving a man who was suffering from chest pains.

“Fifth, the center has a very high turnover rate and has to hire new people on an average of every six months,” the letter continues. “This leads to poor discipline, bad morale, (sic) and most importantly, a deficit in safety for the people in Upshur County.”

According to the letter, dispatcher trainees are allegedly in the habit of buying clothes and “small items (less than) $20” for their trainers.

“They also organize get together (sic) to which not everyone is invited,” the letter reads. “This is an assured way to foster favoritism.”

In the conclusion of the email, “Russ Stover” appeals to the commission to hire someone from outside Upshur County to conduct an audit on the 911 Center’s personnel practices and “effectiveness in providing services” to Upshur County residents.

The Inter-Mountain sent a message to the email address from which the complaint was sent, seeking information about the identity of the sender; however, the message was never returned.

When contacted regarding the complaint, Linger said, “I am very dedicated to ensuring a safe and positive work environment for E911 employees. We look into legitimate complaints. However, I cannot comment on personnel matters to the press.”

Contact Katie Kuba by email at kkuba@theintermountain.com.