Kammerich insists she didn’t ask for ARPA funds

By H.B. Dodds, Staff Writer
Posted 9/15/21

Osage County Clerk Nicci Kammerich last week addressed the Osage County Commission about an article published in the Sept. 1 issue of the Unterrified Democrat under the headline “County …

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Kammerich insists she didn’t ask for ARPA funds

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Osage County Clerk Nicci Kammerich last week addressed the Osage County Commission about an article published in the Sept. 1 issue of the Unterrified Democrat under the headline “County Clerk’s office wants a share of ARPA funds.” 

Kammerich was upset by the headline and wanted commissioners to know her feelings. “We have to be transparent,” she said. “I never asked for funds for this office.”

The article gave an account of Osage County Chief Deputy Clerk Valerie Prater and Deputy Clerk Heather Gyorkos visiting the Aug. 24 commission meeting. Their specific reason for addressing commissioners was to ask about application availability for “essential workers” in county government to be able to apply for ARPA funds. The act specifies such workers could be eligible for up to $25,000 apiece in compensation. 

“There were two employees who had clocked out and come in here asking for an application for ARPA funds,” Kammerich said. “However, the county clerk did not come here asking for funds for the county clerk’s office.”  

Her assertion was they weren’t representing Kammerich or the clerk’s office in any way.

“The article is very misleading. I was never in here,” said Kammerich. 

The article never said she was at the meeting and Kammerich’s name did not appear in the article.

Commissioners acknowledged her position and did not directly disagree. However, Osage County Eastern District Commissioner John Trenshaw did say, “My only argument is they said, ‘We did four elections.’”

Trenshaw’s statement referred specifically to a quote in the article attributed to Prater. She insisted the clerk’s staff was on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19. 

“We did four elections last year,” said Prater in the article. “We [dealt with] people who were COVID positive.” 

It was from that statement the article’s headline was drawn. Nobody has said Kammerich and the rest of her staff shirked duty during those elections. Prater and Gyorkos were not left alone to conduct them by themselves.

Commissioners reiterated to Kammerich what they told Prater and Gyorkos. 

“Our main goal is that health department,” said Osage County Presiding Commissioner Darryl Griffin. “We’ve got three years and we’re not going to rush. We had to rush with [the Coronavirus  Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020].”

“It’s the one bit of guidance we know is solid,” Trenshaw added.

Kammerich also said six political subdivisions in the county are late with paperwork. The documents would enable them to collect their share of 2021 property taxation. She listed Argyle, Chamois, the Chamois Fire Department, Belle, the Belle Fire Department, and the Belle Street and Water Department. By statute, these documents were due on Sept. 1 but Kammerich announced a willingness to accept the forms as late as Sept. 15. She has been in repeated contact with them, and Griffin volunteered to speak with them as well. As for forfeiting revenue, “I don’t want it to happen,” said Kammerich. “I’d rather they get them in.”

Before Kammerich departed, Griffin made a statement of appreciation for Commission Clerk Brooke Dudenhoeffer. A part-time employee, a portion of her duty is taking commission meeting minutes. She also does other clerical work for commissioners. 

“I want to make a public thank you for getting her hired,” said Griffin. “She’s saved us a lot of things.”

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