Carbondale utilities director won’t be fired for poaching |

Carbondale utilities director won’t be fired for poaching

Gina Guarascio
Carbondale correspondent

Carbondale’s utilities director is back on the job after two weeks of unpaid administrative leave following a poaching incident.

Ed Fortner’s future was uncertain after he was found guilty of illegally poaching a deer from his back porch and then using a town truck and employee to help discard the remains.

He was also under investigation for wrongfully firing an employee.

An independent investigation conducted by Mountain States Employers Council found that Fortner acted inappropriately, but Carbondale Town Manager Tom Baker said the behavior was not grounds for dismissal.

“The town views Mr. Fortner’s actions as a violation of his job duties as a supervisor,” Baker wrote in a summary of findings from the investigation. “And Mr. Fortner has taken full responsibility and shown genuine remorse for his conduct. Clearly, the inappropriate conduct needs to be remedied.

“This is the first instance of discipline and does not warrant termination.”

Besides being put on unpaid administrative leave, Fortner will be required to attend classes in supervisory skills, organizational development and recruitment of employees.

The town will select a facilitator or mediator to work with Fortner to help bring order to the workplace by facilitating communication, addressing employee concerns and improving his supervisory skills and performance, Baker said.

“The proof is going to be in the pudding,” Baker said. “Ed has shown sincere remorse for his lack of judgment, and now he’s got to convince his colleagues.”

Fortner oversees a department of 11 employees, and he said he hasn’t been in touch with them since he was put on leave. He returned to work Friday and said he wants to get the incident behind him and get back to work managing the town’s water and wastewater systems.

“This is a public health position that I take very seriously,” Fortner said. “I take full responsibility for my inappropriate actions. I have learned some very important lessons during its process including humility, accountability and the fact that I am a town official and should act accordingly.”