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10:18 AM Tue, Dec. 18th

Hed Lines: The county beat goes on – and on

Mohave County government is going through another transition – at the top.

The county supervisors voted April 19 to hire a new county manager: Ron Walker, a management consultant and retired Naval captain.

I used a military metaphor to describe the decision by writing that a retired Naval captain would command the county's ship of state.

Some county employees were less sanguine.

They said the county's ship is "sinking."

Walker arrived Monday morning in his office on the second floor of the Johnson building.

I encountered the interim county manager, Dick Skalicky, as he was loading boxes into his truck on Friday.

He put me to work: I loaded one of the boxes.

"If you took a picture of me working, you'd ruin my reputation," Skalicky quipped.

Skalicky served his second tour of duty as interim county manager, and headed back to his former haunts at the Public Works Department, where he has served as director since 1988.

Mike Hendrix, the assistant director, has served as acting director since Skalicky moved over to the county manager's office in February 2000.

In advance of Skalicky's return, public works employees conducted their version of the Academy Awards April 23 to honor Hendrix for his "acting" ability.

His wife, Cherie, opened the envelope and read the names of the four nominees.

She presented her hubby with a miniature Oscar.

Meanwhile, the sniping continues over the board's decision to grant sizable raises to two management-level staffers: Chief Financial Officer Duc Ma and Human Resources Officer Linda Semm.

Among other things, the supervisors cited a salary survey that indicated the two earned 51 percent below the average for similar jobs in other government jurisdictions.

Ma also had his walking papers: a job offer from the city of Nogales.

Lower-paid employees were less sympathetic.

One office worker in the public works building told me that Ma's raise, of about $17,900 a year, is almost as much as she makes a year.

A manager in another department complained to me as well, saying that she is eligible for no more than a 3 percent raise.

She also told me that her 23-year-old niece earns more than she does, at $43,000 a year as a physical education teacher.

The county government beat, to quote Sonny and Cher, "goes on" – and on.

One fewer Laska

On a lighter note, the county will employ only one woman with the unusual first name of Laska.

Laska Golden, an office assistant in human resources, has accepted a job in the private sector and put in her last day for the county on Tuesday.

She got her unusual name because her parents were living in Alaska before she was born.

Her grandfather loved a poem titled "Lasca."

"So they combined the name of the poem and the name of the state," Golden said.

She got teased about her name, and waited until after the age of 40 before meeting someone else by the same first name: Laska Thomas, who works for the purchasing department.

"I was so shocked when I met her finally that I hugged her," Laska Golden said.

"I felt that we had a lot in common.

I instantly identified with her."

Laska Thomas said her father wanted to name her Alaska for a mine in the Hualapai Mountains, but her mother and nurse prevailed with the name Laska.

She said she has heard of only two others named Laska, and was amused when she found out about her counterpart in human resources.

"It was kind of funny, especially when I would get her calls and she would get mine," Thomas said.

The real Revere

I was surprised to learn Sunday that Paul Revere is the real name of the founder and leader of the rock 'n' roll band Paul Revere and the Raiders, which peaked during the mid-1960s.

I thought band members came up with the name as a domestic answer to the British Invasion, when the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, the Dave Clark Five, Gerry and the Pacemakers and other bands arrived on our shores.

Revere set the record straight: He founded the band in 1960, when the Beatles were playing in obscure clubs in Europe.