The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

County Board reaffirms Assessor's Termination-gains Davis as board member-hears pipeline settlement

by Joy Swearingen -Correspondent

The Hancock County Board reaffirmed the dismissal of Kelly Joiner, supervisor of assessments, at a hearing Tuesday, September 19, during their regular board meeting.

A hearing to review termination is allowed by statute, after Joiner was dismissed at a July 18 board for official misconduct and criminal trespass.

The open hearing moved from the county board room to the third floor court room. Assessment office deputy Kristin Palmer, and Hancock County Sheriff Scott Bentzinger gave testimony, called by county state's attorney Jason Pohren. Joiner was represented by Chris Scholz of Quincy.

Palmer testified that she had written a letter to Wayne Bollin, county board Finance Committee chairman, after an incident on June 8, 2017. At that time Palmer and Joiner were at a farm to check discrepancies between the assessment map and property record card.

After knocking on the door of the farmhouse and getting no response, they began measuring the house, farm buildings and grain bins. They looked into building windows to determine the kind of flooring in the sheds. Palmer testified that at one point, she saw Joiner walking out of an open building, and then alleged she saw Joiner open a door to look inside an unlocked farm building.

Palmer said that in her training on assessment and from work in the assessment office she knew that assessors should not open doors to go inside a building without permission from the owner.

Sheriff Bentzinger testified that his department learned that the property owners were not at home when the assessors were present and had not given permission for them to enter buildings. Sheriff Bentzinger has not filed charges against Joiner.

The vote to affirm the dismissal passed 14-1 with Gary Dittmer voting "no". The decision can be appealed in circuit court.


In other business, Hancock County Board Chairman Delbert Kreps named Patsy Davis of Carthage to fill a vacancy on the board. Davis is retired from the US Postal Service after 29 years, including serving as postmaster for West Point and Golden. She operates Davis Photography with her daughter, Keara Weber.

Davis was on the Hancock County board in the 1980s and served as representative to the WIRC. She attended Carthage schools and has lived in Hancock County all her life. She has three children and three grandchildren.


Several visitors addressed the board related to future decisions on the ambulance service for the county. Joe Yurko, superintendent at Hamilton School District, urged the board "pump the brakes" and get expert advice before making the long term decision.

"That's a small percentage to pay when you are spending all the energy formulating a structure that will serve you for a long time."

Brian Fredrick, a paramedic who works on both Hancock and Pike county EMS crews, gave a letter to the board. He expressed concern that no one had asked crews what was best.

"My phone never rang once from a county board member. Nobody came to talk to me. I feel like I have been slapped in the face by my employer."

Paramedic Randy Reed said he understood why a volunteer EMS system couldn't continue with the cost of training, and the time it requires.

"If you have to shut one down, I think it is a mistake not to have both ALS ambulances in the center of the county. I can get anywhere in 22-23 minutes."

Hamilton mayor, Walter Sellens, also favored a consultant. "I ask that we deal in good facts. Ask the experts. Get their opinion on what will work."

The board asked Ambulance Coordinator Gabe Smeltser to have two bids for consultants for the next Health and Miscellaneous committee, and also to make a recommendation on how to proceed with the ambulance system.


The board approved a cash settlement negotiated by State's Attorney Pohren with the Dakota Access Pipeline. The county will receive $450,000 for damages done to roads when the pipeline was being built in 2016.


The board approved seven resolutions conveying property through tax sale certificates.

These included $700 paid by Donald P. Dodge for property in Nauvoo;

$2,250 paid by Damon J. Tripp for property in Appanoose Township;

$645 paid by Johnny L. Pence for property in La Harpe; $651 paid by Christopher Bickhaus for property in Warsaw;

$700 paid by John Damron for property in Basco; $703 paid by Teraprom LLC for property in Plymouth; and $1,520 paid by Jeffrey R. Carson for property in St. Albans Township.


David Knowles was appointed to a five-year term to the board of the Hancock County Housing Authority.