JOHN DAY – Grant County Roadmaster Mark Hensley has decided to leave the job he’s held since 2002, saying he feels he “can’t be productive with this court.”

In an interview Friday, Hensley said he’ll seek “a separation by mutual agreement,” perhaps as early as this week.

However, he said doesn’t want to leave on a negative note or to single out any member of the Grant County Court as the problem.

“It’s just that they don’t think the way I do,” he said.

Hensley, 58, isn’t at retirement age. He said he’ll be looking for a new job, although he regrets that’s likely to take him out of the county, away from family ties.

Hensley worked on the Road Department crew from 1993-96, and returned to the department in a supervisory role in 2001, becoming roadmaster a year later.

He admits to getting emotional as he gets ready to leave.

“I will miss it,” he said. “I just think it’s the best thing to do.”

Hensley said he doesn’t plan to stay on during the search for his replacement, which could take 60 days or more. He also said not to expect a repeat of the situation in 2008, when he considered resigning. At that time, advisory committee members and others urged him to reconsider, and he stayed on.

County Judge Scott Myers, who met twice last week with Hensley, said he tried to talk him into staying.

“The last thing we need to be doing right now is searching for another roadmaster,” Myers said.

Backers of Hensley also appeared at last week’s County Court meeting, warning that the county could lose a key employee.

Commissioner Boyd Britton said the problem is that members of the Court were not treating Hensley with respect, and then turned to “those two ladies,” meaning the treasurer and court secretary, for blame.

Myers interrupted Britton, urging him to keep the discussion congenial and not personal.

Ken Holliday, a rancher on the road advisory committee, said the bottom line is “You’re going to lose your road department manager.”

Byron Haberly also cited what he saw as a lack of support. He urged the court to “back him, or correct him.”

“This should be one of the best jobs in the county, and it’s not. It’s the worst,” he said.

Myers said his goal is to patch things up with the crew and the management at the Road Department.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in this room that wants to see Mark go,” he said.

Commissioner Chris Labhart suggested that the Court and Hensley set a work session to sort out any differences, and Myers agreed.

However, on Friday Myers met with Hensley and found him convinced about leaving.

Hensley traces the split, in part, to last year’s elections, when voters elected Myers over incumbent Mark Webb as county judge.

“I feel I’m on the wrong side of that fence, like I’m the lame duck here,” Hensley said.

Webb worked closely with Hensley through budget cuts, staffing reallocation, and union challenges in his six-year term. Road Department issues and legal spending came up during the judge campaign, and also during the election to fill the commissioner seat held by Myers; Chris Labhart won that spot in November.

Hensley said he’s proud of the improvements he has helped usher in at the Road Department in scheduling, budgeting and employee relations.

“We tell employees that if they don’t understand what’s expected of them when they go out that door, to turn around and let’s talk about it,” he said.

In his tenure, the department has had to adjust to a more realistic level of services, given the loss of timber dollars and federal compensation, he said.

“I’m really proud of what we can do with the number of people we have,” he said.

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