what she described as being ….
what she described as being the “last straw” regarding actions taken while Sherman was using earned benefit time in recent weeks. Sherman has been out of the office since May 8 using her earned leave time.
County human resources director Nicole Hager said the county veterans service committee would need to meet to determine how to move forward.
“Nikki Sherman was scheduled to work yesterday, May 22, and didn’t come in,” Hager said. She said the county has not received a formal resignation from Sherman, but said that with the email Sherman sent out, they are moving forward treating it as a resignation.
“Based on the information we are considering her having resigned,” Hager said.
On Tuesday the county released the following statement: “Nikki Sherman was scheduled to work on May 22, 2023 and did not report to work. Later in the day, we were notified by someone that received an email from her stating she had resigned her position. Based on this information we are considering her as resigned.
“Ms. Sherman had been off work using her accrued leave since May 8th. Ms. Wundrow, Veterans Service Officer, was covering the office while Ms. Sherman was using her leave and anticipated her return on May 22nd.
“Taylor County disagrees that contacting Ms. Sherman while she was out of the office for an extended period of time was bullying, harassment or intimidation. While she was gone she had property in her possession that was needed to run the Veterans Service Office.
“The communication that occurred while she was off was to promote Ms. Sherman’s work life balance and to ensure continued operations of the office.
“We will be recruiting for the Veterans Benefits Specialist position and are working with other Veterans Service Officers to continue to provide service to our vets and their families.”
Currently, the office is being staffed by Taylor County Veterans Service Officer Sheila Wundrow who started in the position in April. It typically takes several months before new CVSOs have all their certifications and training needed to fully access the federal government’s computer system for filing and working on veterans benefits’ claims.
The email has drawn responses from veterans services officers in other counties condemning Taylor County for the situation.
“It’s truly a sad day when a county employee is intimidated by an elected official. Taylor County is losing and has lost wonderful employees to this type of outrageous behavior,” stated Scott Bachowski, Barron County Veterans Service Officer.
“Taylor County “leadership” is TOXIC! I hope all the residents, not just veterans, speak up and demand a change. Their behavior is not only unacceptable, it’s illegal!” wrote Tammy Javenkoski, veterans service officer in Oneida County, in an email response to Sherman’s message. She stated that she did not know how Sherman stayed in the position that long. “ It shows true dedication and compassion for your veterans, and I hope they see that, too. You have the utmost respect of the entire County Veterans Service Officers Association of Wisconsin,” Javenkoski wrote.
The full text of Nikki Sherman’s resignation letter is as follows: “It is with great sadness that I am emailing you this. I am resigning from my position as the Veteran Benefits Specialist for Taylor County effective 5/22/2023.
I have been through a lot in the last year in my position at Taylor County and the environment is not getting any better. The continuous harassment, intimidation, and bullying continued.
I am truly sorry and feel awful for our Taylor County Veterans.
One thing I have learned in the past year is some Taylor County supervisors do not support their Veterans or their employees. They are the good old boys and must be right.
On June 15, 2022, Lester Lewis, and Catherine Lemke (both county board supervisors) came into my office for 52 minutes to intimidate me, and wrongfully accuse me of actions. I asked Lester to please leave as I felt he was verbally attacking me, making me feel uncomfortable, and intimidating me. Lester laughed at me and then asked Catherine if he intimidated her, and stated he has never heard that before. I made a complaint with HR, and nothing happened again.
On July 20, 2022, Lester Lewis should have been removed after the reading of a sheriff’s complaint made by Mrs. Shaw and then the “shove/grab” incident with a Veteran. Rollie Thums should have been removed after telling all the Veterans in the audience that same day “You all think you’re better than the rest of us.” I do really believe that Mr. Lewis’s actions toward me were unprofessional and unacceptable and that he should be held accountable.
In October 2022, Lester tried to destroy the Taylor County Housing Authority and Forestry Dept. by making uncalled cuts to those departments.
The last and final straw for me was what happened to me on my earned benefit time.
1. Monday 5/08/2023, receive an email from Nicole Hager (HR), stating I can not respond to emails on my benefit time off.
2. Tuesday 5/09/2023, my emails and log-in get disconnected.
3. Wednesday 5/10/23, Sheila cried at the VFW (American Legion) meeting and said negative things about me.
4. Thursday 5/11/23 at 1:19 pm, I received a threatening voicemail from Nicole Hager stating that the County will be having the police come to my house if I do not return a county laptop and filing cabinet key by 4:30 pm on 5/11/23. That gave me 3 hours to stop my move/packing and bring in this laptop and key to HR’s office. This threat to return to the workplace while on vacation was days after I was instructed not to come to work or check emails while on vacation per Nicole Hager’s email on 5/08/23, along with Rachel Ogle’s Facebook message on 5/11/23.
5. Thursday 5/11/23, Sheila Wundrow texted me that I can only come to work on 5/12/23 between the hours of 10 am-11 am to check my email and put an outof- office on. (5/12/23 – my son had 5th grade track and field event) 6. Friday 5/12/23 at 8:23 am, Sheila Wundrow texted me and demanded that I change my out-of-office by 5/15/23 at 4:30 PM. So again, I must go into the office on my earned time off to do these unrealistic demands.
I have concerns about multiple processes in the county. The concerns seem to be founded as Taylor County hired a third party to investigate comprehensive concerns and complaints back in October 2022 and the report was made public in January 2023, with no action taken, the report is attached.
I believe that I am a reasonable person and that I generally have good intentions. I genuinely care and am passionate about helping Veterans. The above is just another example of the good old boys. I honestly wish the best and nothing but good things for our Veterans. I simply wanted that, and I tried. The behavior, micromanaging, control, and unprofessionalism are inappropriate.
So, to our Veterans, I am sorry, and I pray you will forgive me for this decision that I had to make.”