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Odden: Taves has been reviewing, signing documents

County Highway Engineer Ryan Odden, third from left, middle row, attended the Board of Commissioners meeting Nov. 28 at the Wadena Courthouse when Dyan Ebert, front row, right, delivered the executive report findings on Teamsters Local 320 grievances against Auditor/Treasurer Judy Taves. Odden has been acting as the supervisor of the auditor/treasurer office since September. Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal

When Wadena County Auditor/Treasurer Judy Taves will be returning to work at the county courthouse is still open to question.

Taves was found guilty by an independent investigation last week of violating a labor agreement with Teamsters Local 320. The Wadena County Board of Commissioners agreed to three recommendations by Labor Attorney Dyan Ebert regarding the operation of the department at a Nov. 28 meeting and to write a letter to Taves admonishing her for her conduct.

Taves told the Pioneer Journal in October she had been locked out of her office - a notion that was challenged at the Nov. 28 meeting.

Staff members of the Auditor/Treasurer Department made it clear at the Nov. 28 meeting they did not wish to have contact with Taves in the future. One county employee spoke of witnessing Taves routinely using intimidation tactics to exercise control over her staff.

County Engineer Ryan Odden has been supervising the auditor/treasurer staff since Taves was first presented with union grievances at an open meeting of the county board Sept. 12.

"Usually it's what works in the schedule," Odden said. "She has stopped by here and reviewed and signed documents. It's been several months."

Odden said he has gained some insights into the auditor/treasurer position, but he made it clear his role is limited.

"I am strictly acting as a supervisor for the employees," Odden said, who has been the go-between for Taves and the auditor/treasurer staff. "I think we've done well given the situation. When different documents come that require her attention, I have notified her and she has worked on those documents." Odden said. "Right now, as far as I know, things are on task."

Odden indicated that there are certain duties of the auditor/treasurer office that only Taves can perform. He has no insight into when Taves would resume the leadership of her department.

Taves was elected to her office in 2014 and has another year to go before her term of office is up. According to County I.T. Director Curt Kreklau, who has been clerking for the board in her absence, Taves has certain statutory duties to perform as an elected official.

Taves was contacted last week regarding her position with the county but had no comment at the time about when that would be.

When contacted in October about returning to work when the grievance process was over Taves said: "The short answer is 'yes, absolutely.'"

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