Most of the staff at the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District, including former District Administrator Steve Yohe, have left since the district became dependent to the Town of Loxahatchee Groves in June.
“[Yohe] gave me three days’ notice. He resigned,” said Town Manager Bill Underwood, explaining that the former administrator will receive no separation pay other than vacation and sick time.
Underwood said he expects to hire a director to replace him, probably at less pay than what Yohe made, which was almost $95,000 a year, plus benefits.
“I budgeted Steve for a whole year, but I’m probably going to be looking for someone at less pay, though not much less,” Underwood said.
In the meantime, Underwood’s wife, Perla Underwood, who handles financial matters for the town, has been working at the LGWCD office.
“She has been over there and comes back,” he said. “What occurred was not only has Steve left, but also [Field Superintendent] Mike Walker.”
He added that former LGWCD Clerk Lynette Ballard has also left.
“Everybody’s gone except one equipment operator, Linda Waddell,” he said, adding that he is keeping district operations going.
“They’re keeping the water drained, and we’re keeping it at certain levels,” he said. “We’re fixing certain canal banks, we’re doing mowing, we’re doing all kinds of stuff. I think we’ve gotten a lot done in the last few weeks.”
Underwood said that he is using a contractor, Ed Chapin, to do most of the work, including cleaning up about 7 miles of canal berms that serve as guardrails in the town.
“He’s doing it the way he wants to rather than the way the district did it, and at a very reasonable price,” Underwood said. “He’s cutting the tops of the berms and leaving some growth on the sides to keep them from collapsing into the canal. We’re moving. We have not stopped functioning.”
He plans to hire replacement staff eventually rather than use a contractor. “There’s not enough of me to spread around,” Underwood said.