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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lee County worker blows the whistle on county managers

A Lee County worker blows the whistle on county managers, accusing them of forcing employees out of their jobs. This comes after a Fox 4 investigation into the controversial resignation of the County's interim D-O-T Director.

Steve Sherman works for Lee County's Department of Transportation's Traffic Sign Division and after watching our report last night he decided to speak out. He wants to expose the way county officials are treating their employees and he feels it's so important he's willing to put his own job on the line for this. Sherman admits he's nervous about going public but says, "I feel the obligation to do right by my fellow employees and Mr. Wingard".

Paul Wingard is currently the county's interim Director of the Department of Transportation and has recently decided to resign. Wingard says he's leaving because he's not happy with the current administration, "when you're working with a group of people and you really feel like you're not part of that group, that's just not a good place to be in."

County Manager, Karen Hawes, claims Wingard and other key employees have been leaving to pursue more lucrative jobs in the private sector. But Wingard says that's not at all true, "I'm not leaving because of additional pay that absolutely has nothing to do with the reason I'm leaving."

And that has Lee County Commissioner Brian Bigelow questioning the integrity of Karen Hawes. Bigelow wonders, "are we getting other information in the course of doing county business that might also be inaccurate or misleading? This is a grave concern for myself."

Sherman says he knows the truth about why good employees are leaving and it's because county managers are forcing them out. He claims they rule with a "heavy handed mentality, it's my way or the highway,jobs are tough so if you don't like it here then go like it somewhere else."
Sherman now works for the County's Traffic Division of the Lee County Department of Transportation, he says he's happy there and he likes his supervisors but that wasn't the case a few years ago. When he worked at D.O.T's Operations Center he wasn't happy at all, he said supervisors there ruled with an iron fist and he's talked with other employees throughout Lee County who also say they have a problem with the upper management style.
Sherman says, "It's counterproductive to be chastised and be heavy handed in certain areas of departments with the employees". Sherman goes on to say that employees will eventually leave if things don't improve at the workplace, "Absolutely, if the employment business gets better in the private sector I'm sure there will be a great exodus out of here."
Lee County Commissioner Tammy Hall told Four in your Corner's Mike Mason more employees may lose their jobs because the county has a 46-million dollar deficit. County employees, however, don't feel that should have anything to do with how they are treated at work. Lee County records indicate 26 employees have left their jobs since May first of this year but the circumstances of *why* they left are unclear. Fox 4 would like to hear from public employees if they have problems at work. They can call or text Fox 4 at 239-206 Fox Four or send an email at ‘' and click on the ‘Viewers' Voice' tab.

Here's a link to the Fox 4 TV report:

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