Tama Co. Conservation director resigns

Special meeting draws robust attendance

Clockwise from center back, Tama Co. HR Administrator Tammy Wise, Conservation chairman John Keenan, past chair Bryan Wacha, board member Jim Allen, vice chair Carolyn Adolphs, board member Steve Kenkel, now former Tama Co. Conservation Director Stephen Mayne with counsel, and Brent Hinders, attorney for the board gather around conference tables for a special meeting held last week Thursday at the nature center in rural Toledo. PHOTO BY SOREN M. PETERSON

RURAL TOLEDO – Despite a scarcity of public information, it appears Tama County Conservation Director Stephen Mayne has resigned.

This past Monday in an email exchange with Tama-Grundy Publishing, Tama County Attorney Brent Heeren told the newspaper it was his understanding that Director Mayne, who was placed on administrative leave earlier this month, had resigned.

Prior to Mayne’s resignation, the Tama Co. Board of Conservation held a special meeting last Thursday, Aug. 17 beginning at 4:30 p.m. at Otter Creek Lake & Park Nature Center. The meeting – which had been scheduled barely 24 hours prior – drew an unusually large public audience and took place mostly behind closed doors.

All members of the board were present including Jim Allen who was appointed on Aug. 7 to fill the vacancy left by past board member Nathan Wrage who stepped down in July.

Also in attendance were Mayne with counsel, attorney for the board Brent Hinders, Tama Co. Human Resources Administrator Tammy Wise, and conservation staff including Ranger Dustin Horne, Park Officer Riley Conrad, and Naturalist Raina Genaw.

Eight members of the public were in attendance as well including Tama Co. Supervisor Bill Faircloth, past Tama Co. Supervisor Kendall Jordan, past Tama Co. Conservation Board member Allan Atchison, and Craig Wise, former Conservation staff member.

The meeting’s agenda – short and succinct – was posted the day prior, Wednesday, at 2:52 p.m. on the bulletin board at the Tama Co. Administrative Building in Toledo.

After calling the meeting to order, several claims were quickly approved including a $75 payment to the Iowa State Assoc. of Counties, a $1,834.95 Menard’s charge, a payment to Rachel Construction for $25,133.53, and a payment to the Iowa DNR for $264,504.92.

The board then motioned at 4:34 p.m. to go into closed session both at the request of Mayne and pursuant to Iowa Code 21.5(1)(i) to “evaluate the professional competency of an individual whose appointment, hiring, performance or discharge is being considered when necessary to prevent needless and irreparable injury to that individual’s reputation and that individual requests a closed session.”

All members of the board voted in the affirmative to enter into closed session. Present during the closed session — which lasted just over an hour — in addition to the board were Wise, Hinders, and Mayne along with his counsel.

Upon returning to open session at 5:38 p.m., Clutier resident John Svoboda briefly addressed the board about missing memorial items placed at the park in memory of his late parents. Board member Bryan Wacha indicated the items would be put back up soon.

The meeting was adjourned just before 5:45 p.m.

Following the meeting, board chairman John Keenan told Tama-Grundy Publishing he was unable to comment on Mayne’s employment because the issue was now a “personnel matter.”

When contacted by Tama-Grundy Publishing via email on Friday, Aug. 18 in regard to Mayne’s employment and whether he had resigned, Wise replied, “I have not received his resignation. If I do, I will let you know.”

Mayne was placed on administrative leave on Tuesday, August 1, according to a letter addressed to him and signed by John Keenan that was provided to Tama-Grundy Publishing by the Tama County Attorney.

“This is to serve as notification that as of today you are on administrative leave. You will not be allowed to use any county equipment or be on any county conservation premises for any reason until further notice. All equipment owned by the Conservation board in your personal possession at this time shall be returned to the Tama County Human Resource Office,” the letter reads in full.

Mayne, an Iowa State graduate who holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and animal ecology, was hired as director in early March of 2021. He previously worked as an executive for the Boy Scouts of America.

Tama-Grundy Publishing has reached out to Mayne but has not immediately heard back.

This past Monday, the board of supervisors approved authorizing Tama County Treasurer Amanda Kriegel on the Conservation holding account.

Update: After this story went to press, in an email to the newspaper, Tama County HR Administrator Tammy Wise confirmed Stephen Mayne’s resignation took place on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023.