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Mon, Nov. 18

Merit Commission seeks more members

A commission that advises the presiding judge of the Mohave County Superior Court on personnel matters will expand from five to nine members to become more broad-based, said Rick Lewis, Superior Court administrator.

The Merit Commission is seeking broader representation from communities outside Kingman such as Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City, Lewis said.

He said a more diverse ethnic makeup of the panel also may be a factor.

Commission Co-Chairman Tom Carter of Kingman agreed.

"For one thing, we are trying to make the board more representative from the citizenry," Carter said.

"We could get retired people; we could get current business people."

Carter, who also serves on Kingman's Planning and Zoning Commission, said another advantage of expanding the panel is that it is sometimes difficult to obtain a quorum.

"A committee of five is a very, very thin committee," Carter said.

"When you get up to nine (members), it's not difficult to manage those meetings."

The commission now meets once every six weeks, but it probably will meet only once every three months once it is expanded, Lewis said.

Besides Carter, other commissioners are Keith Julle, a service station owner in Kingman; Chuck Peterson, a supervisor for the county probation department in Bullhead City; Alan Chamberlain, a deputy probation officer in Kingman; and Janice Gardam, secretary to Superior Court Judge Randy Bartlett in Lake Havasu City.

The panel has met three or four times since Presiding Judge Gary Pope established the commission about a year ago, and has spent that time in part to become familiar with merit rules that govern 225 to 250 employees, Lewis said.

Merit rules apply to employees of the Superior Court, including probation, the mediation center and the juvenile detention center.

Commissioners are responsible for recommending rules, processes and procedures for advancing professionalism and efficiency in judicial service, according to the merit rules.

The commission also is empowered to handle grievances involving matters such as working conditions, Lewis said.

By contrast, a hearing officer presides over grievance hearings involving employee/management relations.

The panel has not heard any grievance yet, and Lewis does not find that unusual at all.

"I think most issues can be resolved between employees and their supervisors," he said.

Lewis said he has contacted two potential commission members and is trying to fill some slots.

The merit rules state no more than three commissioners shall be from the same political party.

Commissioners are appointed to four-year terms.

For more information, call the court administrator's office at 753-0790, extension 4391.

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