Hearing Set to Remove Lettenmaier

A hearing has been set for Tuesday, Aug. 7, at 1 p.m. to officially remove Barnes County Water Resource District Board member Duane Lettenmaier from the water board over what three other board members claim were “unapproved actions.”

An official complaint was sent to Commission Chair Cindy Schwehr and signed by water board president Jeff McMillan, vice president Pat Hurley, and board member John Kohler.

The Barnes County Commission will hold the hearing following its regularly scheduled meeting from 8 a.m. to noon that morning.
“I suppose they’ll break for lunch and then come back and chop my head off,” Lettenmaier said.

“I think I might mount a defense, but then I get I might just let them fire me, I don’t know. I’ve had several phone calls and people visiting me in my yard wanting to support me to mount a defense. I’m going to think on it yet, we’ll see what happens next.”

The complaint stems from work done on “Legal Drain No. 2,” for which the water board had approved $10,000 to clear out the drain. The board was charged an additional $13,000 for work that some board members say went beyond the original scope of the project and only benefited Lettenmaier, who owns property in that area.

Lettenmaier said the work was done to alleviate problems with County Road 11, which runs north out of Sanborn and is the only available exit from the city when trains frequently block roads exiting to the south. He had agreed to pay for the work until the water board moved to close the drain at their last meeting.

Barnes County States Attorney Lee Grossman said the county commission will decide whether there is enough evidence to remove Lettenmaier from the water board at the hearing.

“They have to find if he is guilty of misconduct, malfeasance, crime in office, neglect of duty in office, habitual drunkenness, gross incompetency, or inability to perform the duties of office for reasons of health,” which Grossman said are the charges allowed under the North Dakota Century Code to allow a commission to remove a water resource district board member.