Starke County Commissioners Deny Holiday Pay for Lawson

Former Starke County Sheriff’s Department employee Ron Lawson is surely disappointed with the commissioners’ decision this week to not award him the holiday pay he claims he is entitled to. Lawson previously indicated that Starke County Sheriff Oscar Cowen is under the impression that Lawson had already received his holiday pay for the days in question, but Lawson said he has not been paid and he’s been seeking this reimbursement for two years.

Lawson did not work on the holidays for which he requested reimbursement, but said that when he was acting as a sheriff’s department employee with a four-day off-and-on schedule, he is entitled to the holiday pay regardless of whether he was on duty at the time or not. The confusion stems from the lack of a comprehensive handbook for the sheriff’s department addressing this type of issue.

Commissioner Kathy Norem expressed that she thinks the current practice for holiday pay needs to be changed, while Commissioner Kent Danford said he felt that since, in the past, this holiday pay was not typically awarded, and there are no cases of such a payout, he can’t vote in favor of it. Commissioner Jennifer Davis, on the other hand, said she feels the county owes the holiday pay for 2012 but nothing before then, and expressed that she would like to see the policy better defined.

Danford made a motion to deny the holiday pay for Lawson and Norem seconded it. The motion passed 2-1, with Davis opposed. Lawson, visibly disappointed, asked if he could get the recordings from the commissioners’ meeting at the sheriff’s department in July and the commissioners’ meeting in October, and was told he would receive a copy of those recordings.