by KATHRYN DENTATO
At the June 9, 2020, BOCC meeting, County Administrator Jeff Rogers introduced the County’s Human Resources/Risk Management Director, Michelle Posewitz. Posewitz was the finalist chosen by the selection committee.
Posewitz takes over for interim HR Director and Fire Chief Scott Hechler. Hechler was given the job after the resignation of Christi Charlow who left the county under some duress following an investigation she conducted into overtime wages. The investigation resulted in her husband, also a county employee receiving approximately $30,000 in compensation for unpaid overtime wages.
Posewitz was most recently the Human Resources Director for Sauk County, WI for more than 15 years. With a master’s degree in business, management and leadership as well as certifications in human resources, Posewitz appears to be well qualified to fulfill Hernando County’s needs.
Rogers advised the BOCC members that Posewitz was his choice because of her servant leadership attitude. He said was also impressed with her training in and experience negotiating with unions during collective bargaining sessions.
Rogers said there was a third area where Posewitz would make a difference in the county. That is her ability to provide employees and leadership with training that will add value to their teams. It’s part of a customer service model that would benefit both citizens and employees.
Posewitz’s first day with Hernando County was June 8, 2020. She thanked Rogers for his introduction and summary of her experience, background and goals.
The commissioners welcomed Posewitz, discussing the weather differences between the two states and expressing that they were looking forward to working with her. Commissioners Wayne Dukes and Steve Champion admitted there would be challenges ahead but were confident that Posewitz would do well.
BOCC Chairman John Mitten echoed the statements of the other commissioners and said the BOCC was ready to help Posewitz if requested.
Commissioner Jeff Holcomb moved to approve Posewitz as Human Resources Director. Commissioner John Allocco seconded the motion. Posewitz was approved by a unanimous vote.
Rogers asked the BOCC to recognize the efforts of Fire Chief Scott Hechler, who has served as Interim Human Resources Director for the past six months. He asked to read a letter of recognition into the record.
Rogers admired Hechler for several reasons: his leadership skills and his willingness to do whatever was needed, and a “can-do” attitude that communicated to and was adopted by others. Rogers said that Hechler did not take an additional salary while serving in the interim position.
Holcomb agreed, saying, “When this county needed you, you were there.” Holcomb praised Hechler’s character and the work he has done. Allocco expressed his appreciation for Hechler’s work, even prior to helping with the interim position.
Champion said that he was aware of some of the challenges facing the Fire Department, which Hechler has managed well. An initial challenge Hechler faced as Interim HR Director was organization of the office itself, Champion said.
Dukes said he advised the Assistant County Administrator that the County needed to have someone from outside the county administration in that position. But Hechler’s qualifications were impressive to Dukes, and Hechler met his expectations, Dukes said.
Mitten said that the County has been fortunate to have individuals “step up” into leadership roles when they are needed. Hechler’s career demonstrates servant leadership, Mitten said, but even more visibly as the Interim HR Director.
Mitten expressed his thanks to Hechler on behalf of the BOCC and the citizens of Hernando County for his work in the Fire Department and as Interim HR Director.
Hechler, who said he has been working in public safety since he was 18 years old, thanked the BOCC and audience in the room. “We exist to serve others” is the attitude of the Fire Department as well as law enforcement agencies.
Hechler said that the interim period worked smoothly because of the county administration leadership team and the ability to work with department heads, legal counsel and other individuals. The new HR team will do well under Posewitz, he said.