• Last modified 59 days ago (May 22, 2024)


Goessel boils over with conflict over firing

Staff writer

Controversy is boiling in Goessel over the firing of the city’s public works director and suspicions about the city’s part-time police officer.

Public works director Karen Dalke was summoned to the city shop May 14. Once there, she was asked to turn in her keys and city phone and sign a letter saying she was fired.

No reason was given.

The next day, two part-time public works employees, former mayor Dave Schrag and Ron Plenert, quit in protest when they found out about her firing.

Dalke’s firing also sparked an argument at Monday’s city council meeting. The city’s part-time police officer, Joseph “Anthony” Voth, stood up to cut off comments when Plenert voiced his opinions to council members and body shop owner Glenn Herman interrupted to argue.

“Karen worked 17 years,” Plenert said. “She was honest, hard-working, and had more pride for this community than all of you put together. If you would have worked with her instead of against her, you would have seen that.”

Plenert said Dalke had worked under four mayors, and the only one who had a problem with her was Evan Esau, promoted from council president to mayor July 17 Ben Schmidt resigned.

Plenert said Dalke was “falsely accused” of changing a time clock and stealing from the city shop.

“She finally got to the point of putting a trash can against the inside of the door and exiting,” he said, “only to find the trash can moved in the morning. That’s when things would be missing.”

Plenert said he wanted to know, and thought the community deserved to know, why Dalke was let go.

That’s when Herman loudly complained that Dalke mowed a lot that didn’t belong to the city.

Plenert shot back that Dalke mowed the lot out of community pride because the owners would not mow it.

Voth then stood and told Plenert that he needed to calm down.

Plenert said Dalke’s firing not only ruined a career but also put the city in non-compliance for not having a trained water operator.

Kansas Rural Water Association went to the Goessel water plant Friday to change its chlorine bottle and inspect the water system.

Regular testing of Goessel water revealed no health violations during 2023.

Voth, whose last name was Cook until he married councilwoman and lawyer Amanda Voth, became a certified officer in 2007 when he worked as a Reno County deputy.

According to administrative assistant Eva Smith at Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training, his certification lapsed in 2011 because too much time had passed since he worked in law enforcement.

In 2018, after he was hired by Goessel, he took a challenge exam at Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center and was recertified, Smith said.

According to a Goessel resident who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, the sheriff’s office was asked to do a background check on Voth and was told Voth had prior misdemeanor convictions that subsequently were expunged.

Public comment, ordinarily on the agenda, was removed from Monday’s agenda at Esau’s order.

Esau did, however, put Plenert on the amended agenda.

Esau said he removed comments from the agenda because council members had nothing they wanted to say.

“We don’t have any comment,” Esau said.

Esau denied council members were attempting to avoid any particular topics.

Some Goessel residents called the newspaper Tuesday to dispute things said by various people at the meeting. One said division in the town is rooted in a local church.

Last modified May 22, 2024