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E-mail snafu knocks top candidate out of the running for administrator’s job

June 2, 2001

CADILLAC — A “miscommunication” is being blamed for the fact that Susan Vander Pol — initially the top pick for the position of Wexford County administrator — is no longer in the running for the job.

The situation has left at least one commissioner hopping mad.

“I’m furious,” said Bill Barnett, charging that the board is “passing up on the best candidate” by withdrawing its offer to Vander Pol, a Cadillac resident who currently serves as Osceola County coordinator.

A statement issued Friday afternoon by Darrell Kelley, chairman of the Wexford County Board of Commissioners, and Commissioner Gary Gilmore, chairman of the board’s human resource committee, indicates the board was “prepared to offer the position to ... Vander Pol, but was unable to reach agreement on an employment contract.”

“We are certainly disappointed in the outcome of our negotiations with Susan,” said Kelley.

However, Vander Pol indicated that she called to accept the position on Friday afternoon and was surprised to find out the board had imposed a deadline of 5 p.m. Thursday for her to accept or reject its offer, and had withdrawn the offer when it didn’t hear from her by that time.

Vander Pol said she subsequently learned the board had E-mailed a notice of the deadline on Thursday.

Vander Pol, who was working in Reed City on Thursday, said there was no way she could have received the notice — which was sent to her home E-mail account — in time to respond.

Barnett felt the board should have called Vander Pol to inform her of the deadline instead of relying on an E-mail.

Barnett said that upon being offered the position, Vander Pol had attempted to negotiate a starting salary “several thousand dollars” higher than the $48,886 offered by the board.

Vander Pol indicated that she spoke to Gilmore on Tuesday night. He subsequently sent her an E-mail offering her the position at the $48,886 salary. Vander Pol said the E-mail did not impose a deadline, but indicated she should contact the board with her decision “as soon as possible.”

Vander Pol said she was out of town on Wednesday. When she returned, she found a phone message left by Gilmore but did not immediately return the call.

Vander Pol said she worked late on Thursday, then entertained guests at home. She said she hesitated to return Gilmore’s call afterwards due to the late hour. She didn’t check her E-mail on Thursday night and only learned of the board’s deadline when she called on Friday with the intent of accepting the position at the salary offered by the board.

“I was unaware of the deadline. It came as a total surprise to me,” she said.

Ironically, Vander Pol indicated she hadn’t initially intended to apply for the job. However, Barnett — an old high school chum — urged her to send in her resume.

“I got on the phone and begged her to apply,” Barnett said.

Vander Pol said she had also spoken to Gilmore at a Rotary function and he offered encouragement. “They had asked me to apply for the position. I didn’t initiate it,” she said.

Vander Pol was philosophical about the county’s decision. “I tend to think things happen for a reason and maybe this is for the best,” she said. “I wish the board well in their search, and I look forward to continuing to work for Osceola County.”

In the statement issued by the board, Gilmore expressed regret over the outcome, noting, “We were hoping to bring a local flavor to the administration office. Despite the breakdown in negotiations, we wish Susan continued success in Osceola County.”

The board indicated it would contact the other top candidates in hopes of finding its next administrator. In its press release, the board indicated that “if an interested applicant is identified, the Board will follow a similar process of negotiating an employment contract.

However, Barnett isn’t willing to dismiss the issue so quickly. He hopes his fellow commissioners will take a second look at Vander Pol. “I’m willing to continue fighting for her. ... A few snafus on the negotiating level should not stop her from coming to Wexford County,” he said.

Kelley and Gilmore did not return telephone calls seeking comment on the issue.

Vander Pol declined to comment on whether she would still accept the job should the board renew its offer. “It’s really too soon. I guess I need some time to reflect,” she said.

Copyright © Cadillac News 2001


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