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New lake chief quits

Residents wonder whether controversy is real cause of departure after 6 months

News editor

For a second time in just six months, county commissioners are in search of a lake superintendent after Bryan Metz submitted his resignation Friday, effective Jan. 20.

Metz said Tuesday that he was resigning for personal reasons, but two lake residents believe there might be more to it.

“I feel bad having to tell the commissioners after just five months that I’m leaving,” Metz said. “My wife and I came to the conclusion right now for her and I that this would be the best.”

Metz spoke positively about his relationship with commissioners.

“We have very good communication between us,” he said. “I keep in regular contact.”

Metz said he had the support and resources necessary to do the job.

“Actually, it’s a dream job for the right individual,” he said. “I enjoyed the people around the lake, the residents, people that stay in the trailers over the weekend. They’re a lot of really good people.”

However, some lake residents believe the job might not have been the dream Metz made it out to be.

Lake resident Paul White said he was shocked when he learned Metz had resigned.

“I don’t know what to think,” he said. “I thought Bryan was doing a pretty good job out here.”

White speculated that Metz might have been confused about what he should and should not be doing, given conflicting statements and actions by commissioners and lake patrons.

Beginning in March, a series of issues came before commissioners indicating that things at the lake weren’t all that dreamy.

Commissioner Dianne Novak criticized conditions at the lake, saying it had been neglected for many years. Commission chairman Randy Dallke accused Novak of giving lake developer Garry Dunnegan permission for a a driveway easement that wasn’t approved by the whole commission until after the work was done. Novak raised the issue of a grass-covered airstrip for model planes that had morphed into a hard-surfaced runway that would potentially cost the county thousands of dollars to complete.

Then lake superintendent Steve Hudson resigned in June, citing family and personal reasons.

Commissioner Kent Becker suggested ongoing conflict may have contributed to Hudson’s departure, but that was never publically confirmed by Hudson.

Metz was hired a month later, during the middle of the longest string of blue-green algae warnings and watches in recent memory, a streak that depressed use of the lake by residents and visitors.

Debate and controversy continued through the fall, with Novak again taken to task by Dallke for allegedly giving Dunnegan permission to cut down a tree and put down rock. Novak denied she had done so.

Responding to numerous comments from lake residents, commissioners recently agreed to pursue creation of a long-term management plan for the lake.

Then Metz resigned.

Lake resident Greg Wyatt echoed White’s belief that Metz was caught between opposing factions.

“I think he was in a tough spot himself,” Wyatt said. “Talking to Bryan and his assistant, I know they were being pulled two different ways. They just wanted to do their job, and they couldn’t do that.”

Wyatt took issue with Novak’s handling of matters with Dunnegan, asking her in a recent meeting whether actions she takes as a county official should go to the commission for approval. He said Novak didn’t respond to his question, even after he asked a second time. Dallke supported the idea the commission should act as a whole, he said.

Wyatt also was upset about a statement Novak issued telling lake residents and patrons to be silent while the commissioners move ahead on a long-term plan.

“We are the people who you represent, that elected you to an office to work as a commission,” Wyatt said. “She’s telling us to be silent, but she did this action out here by listening to a few residents and making a decision on her own. To me that’s a contradiction to what she wants from us. That just kind of set me off.”

Wyatt said he didn’t expect issues surrounding lake maintenance and management to die down any time soon.

“I think it will be that way until we come up with a long-term management plan that will be good for all people,” he said. “Some people feel entitled to do things. If there’s a plan as to how it’s to be done, it may curb some of that entitlement.”

Wyatt said he hoped commissioners would come together for the good of the lake.

“They’re not doing the job that they were elected to do, at least in my mind,” he said.

Last modified Jan. 4, 2018

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