County settles suit filed by ex-chief clerk

The Susquehanna County Courthouse was built in the Greek Revival style – one of the architectural styles prominent in the Montrose Historic District which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

Susquehanna County settled a lawsuit filed nearly four years ago by former chief clerk, R.S. Stoud.

The case filed against the county was scheduled to head to trial in the Middle District Court of Pennsylvania before being settled in April. Stoud had alleged, in court documents, that his rights were violated when he was subjected to a hostile work environment in retaliation for investigating and reporting an incident of sexual harassment alleged by a female subordinate against a county official.

When questioned about the settlement agreement at the June 9 county commissioners meeting, Commissioner Elizabeth Arnold said that they were “not allowed to talk about it.”

She added that she might “write a book about it” when she is no longer serving as an elected official.

Stoud initiated the lawsuit in November 2017 with claims against the commissioners for retaliation and creating a hostile work environment when he was employed as the chief clerk. He alleges that after he reported the inappropriate conduct to the county commissioners, “they subjected him to increasing and pervasive harassment and retaliation.”

The former deputy chief clerk also filed suit against the county which was settled and dismissed by the court in January 2020.

In the memorandum written by US District Judge Malachy Mannion in July 2020, he stated that the evidence showed Stoud had established all of the elements of his retaliation claim against the county, including adverse employment action.

The judge wrote: “Indeed, it cannot be ignored that Arnold was trying to undermine (Stoud’s) authority shortly after he reported the December 2015… incident.”

The judge also wrote that Stoud provided more than enough evidence to show he suffered a hostile work environment.

Director of Planning hired

The commissioners approved the hiring of a new Director of Planning, effective June 21. Patti Peltz, of Harford, was approved to fill the position at an annual salary of $43,000.

Since the retirement of Bob Templeton from the position in April 2020, the newly hired Peltz will be the fourth director hired by the commissioners in the past year.

Arnold said Peltz was recommended for the position by the county’s chief clerk and the human resources director and that the commissioners were not involved in the hiring process.

In other business, the commissioners approved the following:

*entering into agreements with the Lackawanna-Susquehanna Behavioral Health/Intellectual Disabilities/Early Intervention program;

*contract with TimeClock Plus for software support and maintenance and attendance software, at a cost of $511.83 for 90 days, effective June 11;

*Tax Claim Bureau requested exonerations for a parcel in Ararat Twp. with the Department of Assessment noting the mobile home had been removed from the property, and one in Brooklyn Twp. after Tax Claim received notification that the Brooklyn Twp. supervisors had purchased the parcel in May 2019;

*advertise a request for proposals for Capacity Agreements for solid waste. Nestor Resources will handle the bid process;

*agreement to participate in the Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP), effective July 1 through June 30, 2022;

*personnel hirings for the county jail, recycling center, a 911/EMA Systems Technician; and two temporary positions to process doe permits.

The following people were also appointed or reappointed to serve on the Northern Tier Regional Planning and Development Advisory Committee:

Economic Development: Bobbi Jo Turner, Chris Brown, John Kameen;

Local Loan Review: Joe Ferretti, Rick Soden, Keith Yurgosky;

Rural Area Transportation: Jack Conroy, Alex Komar, Alan Hall;

Membership Exec Committee:

Elizabeth Arnold, Alan Hall, Judith Herschel, Rick Soden;

Local Elected Officials: Elizabeth Arnold, Alan Hall, Judith Herschel.

The county commissioners meet on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 9 a.m. in the commissioners’ meeting room in the Susquehanna County Courthouse, Lake Ave., Montrose.


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