Local News

Oregon Park Board releases statement on workplace allegation

OREGON – The Oregon Park District’s board of commissioners released a statement Friday that said staff members have received and are responding to a large number of Freedom of Information Act requests related to allegations the district has a hostile work environment.

“Over the past two months various individuals have made a variety of allegations regarding the Park District’s work environment, alleged wrongful financial practices, favoritism, and salary irregularities,” the letter reads.

The board said that FOIA requests are transmitted to the requesters and the Park Board simultaneously.

The initial allegations were lodged during an Oct. 12 commissioners meeting in a 19-minute video recorded by former employee Amanda Zimmermann.

Zimmermann resigned Sept. 17 from her position as the park district’s recreation program manager.

In the video, she described a stressful work environment where she had to walk on eggshells, was subjected to personal attacks and felt the need to say everything was OK to protect her job.

Subsequently, the board met in regular session Nov. 9 and has in executive sessions Oct. 27 and Wednesday, Nov. 17.

The board statement released Friday was signed by President Steve Pennock, Vice President Mark Tremble and commissioners Scott Stephens, Dan Engelkes and Josh Messenger.

In the statement, the board said “these situations are never easy for any of the parties involved and will take time to properly and lawfully evaluate and address.”

The board cited federal and state employment laws in the areas of open meetings, ethics and employment. These restrictions “make it inadvisable to issue an immediate response.”

The board also cited practices designed to protect the privacy of current and former employees.

“These rules require that the Park Board assess the complaints carefully and keep its interim discussions and actions confidential until its evaluation is complete,” the board said.

The letter concludes, saying “the Park Board takes the allegations very seriously and is working diligently to investigate and respond to the allegations.”

Troy Taylor

Troy E. Taylor

Was named editor for Saukvalley.com and the Gazette and Telegraph in 2021. An Illinois native, he has been a reporter or editor in daily newspapers since 1989.

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner covers Ogle County for the Oregon Republican Reporter, Forreston Journal, Mt. Morris Times and Polo Tri-County Press. She has six-plus years of experience in journalism and has won numerous awards.