Morning Sun
  • EDITORIAL: More questions, few answers in Girard

  • There is a lot of frustration in Girard these days.

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  • There is a lot of frustration in Girard these days.
    Some of that frustration is through construction — it’s harder to get in and out of the city of Girard because of bridge repairs on Kansas Highway 47 to the east and west and soon on Kansas Highway 126, the detour route for K-47.
    That undoubtedly has had and will have its effects on local businesses, from Girard Medical Center to Chicken Annie’s Girard. We wonder what the effect could be on the Crawford County Fair come August with K-47 practically shut off from both ends.
    The frustration just from construction extends to the side roads, as numerous roads around K-47 have more than tripled in usage, kicking up dust, tearing up the road and causing cars to speed down typically little-used roads.
    In the end, the construction is temporary. Within the year, most of these projects will be completed and life will move on.
    But while the construction is temporary, the questions about leadership in Girard will linger.
    In April, the Girard City Council voted to terminate fire chief Dustin Johnson. And this week, the Girard School Board voted to suspend Superintendent Gary Snawder until the end of his contract and to begin looking for a replacement.
    Why? We still don’t know. We know there was an investigation into Johnson’s involvement with the Fireman’s Relief Association Fund. We don’t know if something was found or not. If his termination was related to the fund, that needs to be public information. If not, then the public should know that wasn’t why he was fired and get a different explanation.
    Those answers are unlikely to come. A request by The Morning Sun for documents related to the investigation through the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) was declined under three exceptions listed in the KORA. Particularly, these exceptions listed that the documents were 1) privileged as potential evidence 2) considered personnel records and 3) was the work of an attorney.
    It is entirely within their right to decline access to documents. It is also entirely within our right to say that some explanation for Johnson’s firing deserves to be known.
    Let us turn our attention to the Girard School Board, who ousted Snawder. Why? We don’t know that, either. The Board President said no details would be coming, as the move was a “personnel decision.”
    It’s another curious decision. It stands to reason that the board decided Snawder should not remain in his position any longer. But if that were the case, why didn’t the board simply fire Snawder? Why just suspend him for a month before his contract expires?
    As we have said many times in this space, when simple questions have no answer, the public will fill in the blanks on their own. Perhaps some of the rumors on both Johnson and Snawder are true. Perhaps they are not.
    Page 2 of 2 - What is frustrating is not that Snawder and Johnson were let go, necessarily. What is frustrating is that there seems to be no explanation, no justification other than: “It’s a personnel decision.”
    If Johnson and Snawder were further down the chain of command, it wouldn’t be much of an issue. But these are people in positions of prominence. They represented the people of Girard and the school district on more than one occasion. These are public figures who have been a part of the community for some time.
    It stands to reason that the community should receive some reason for these decisions, some official answer to the fill-in-the-blanks question of why. This isn’t a complicated question; it’s a basic question. It’s a question even a child would ask.
    But even children know that “Because” isn’t a very satisfactory answer. And unfortunately, that’s all the answer the residents of Girard will likely have. Without an answer, it’s hard to tell if Snawder and Johnson were fired with no reason given or if they were fired for no reason at all.
    For the Morning Sun

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