At the Sept. 8 Orchard City Board of Trustees meeting, an agenda item was to remove David Stueck from the town planning commission; an item which caused a public scene led by Stueck himself which ultimately led to Stueck being escorted from the meeting by a Delta County deputy.

Stueck’s public hearing for removal from the planning commission was detailed in a packet which was provided to Stueck which outlined behavioral issues, deficiencies and multiple witness statements to the Delta County Sheriff’s Office which outlined a particular incident after the June 9 water committee meeting.

The written statement for Stueck’s removal cited his “history of disruptive and aggressive behavior, inattention to rules, and harassment of Trustees and staff.”

“On many occasions, Mr. Stueck has deviated from agendas to promote his own interests and to exceed his authority as a planning commission member,” the statement stated, going on to say that on several occasions, Stueck has misinterpreted the masterplan and planning commission bylaws, “resulting in misinformation to applicants.”

The statement and supporting exhibits also accuse Stueck of acting inappropriately toward female staff, repeatedly calling them “girls” despite repeated requests to “address female staff members more respectfully,” stating things such as “You girls sure do know how to do your homework” and “At my age, all of you will always be girls to me.”

With an indicated strong interest with the town’s water, the statement addresses that Stueck “has wasted time and energy of the Planning Commission efforts to conduct work sessions and meetings as outlined on the agenda” by veering off topic often and leading the commissioners into conversations about water or other topics outside the scope of the planning commission. “Some tangents lasting 45 minutes with no success at getting back on topic by the other commissioners.”

The first exhibit in Stueck’s removal has a date by date outline of transgressions as presented in the report, most of which referenced forceful steering of meetings toward the topic of water, water rate increases, water tap moratoriums and increased control of water by the planning commission.

It was sited that on June 24 at a planning commission meeting, Stueck requested that the commission support his involvement with the water system, water operations and rule-making. Town staff interjected to try and steer the conversation back to the meeting’s agenda, which allegedly led to Stueck turning and yelling at staff from across the room, “I’m not talking to you!” before continuing into detailed questions about town accounts and finances.

Specifically, an incident reported on June 9 at a water committee meeting played a large part in the exhibits for Stueck’s removal.

As Stueck was a member of the planning commission, he attended the water committee meeting only in the capacity of a citizen. Nevertheless, multiple witness statements report escalated disruptive behavior at that meeting as Stueck, in his capacity of a citizen, tried to take over the meeting from the three-minute citizen comments portion of the meeting, talking of a “rumor he’d heard.” He pushed the issue beyond his allotted three minutes. After the meeting was closed, Stueck reportedly followed trustees Dick Kirkpatrick and Wade Kasmen — both of whom are on the planning commission — out of the room, pressing the issue which was reportedly illogical and didn’t make sense.

After the situation escalated, according to Kirkpatrick’s witness statement, Kirkpatrick told Stueck that he wasn’t welcome to return to the water committee meetings.

Town Administrator Melissa Oelke was also near by while this happened, and Stueck charged toward Kirkpatrick in a way that caused all witnesses that filed reports to believe that Stueck may have had an intention for physical harm.

According to all reports, Stueck’s behavior in that moment caused Oelke to call out for Kasmen, who had already left the room but who heard the call and came back in. Kirkpatrick stood his ground against Stueck as Oelke stood in the middle and Kasmen arrived to try and deescalate the situation.

Soon after, as Kasmen was heading for his car in the parking lot, Stueck followed him, pressing him on the topic of Orchard City’s radio read meters, why the town didn’t have the same system as Cedaredge, etc. Kasmen’s report indicated that he tried to answer the question but was accused by Stueck of lying.

At that point, Kasmen reportedly tried to end the conversation, which Stueck didn’t like, and Kasmen reportedly told him, “I’m officially ignoring you,” which other witness reports showed variations of, all basically saying the same thing.

Multiple witness reports then showed that Stueck said some variation of “That’s okay, a lot of people ignore me but they won’t ignore me much longer.”

Out of the seven witness reports filed, it was determined that Stueck was definitely loud and definitely threatening.

At the public hearing at Wednesday’s meeting, the topic at hand was Stueck’s removal from the planning commission. By public hearing procedure, Stueck was allowed to speak in his defense.

Stueck did not follow the agenda item, instead starting what would become a 30-35-minute speech about water and the town’s poor operation, in his opinion, all which began with “I’ll start up with a little bit of crudeness here. It is my opinion that the town government is a mess.”

Stueck said he had suspicion that the town’s water could be stolen despite staff telling him that it couldn’t. He evaded conversation about his behavior and grounds for removal and pressed the topic of water, indicating that he felt like he’d never been taken seriously with his extensive experience in water. He was reminded that this was outside the scope of the planning commission.

After talking for 15-16 minutes, Stueck made a comment about how if the board had held him to the three minute mark that applied for citizen comments, they would have shut him up a long time ago. Mayor Ken Volgamore did at that point try and get the meeting back on track, telling Stueck that he’d had his time to talk and it was time to move on.

“Got that? I’m shut off folks,” Stueck said. “Now let’s get into my deficiencies.” He returned to talking about water and infrastructure and his disagreement with the town raising water rates due to drought while also still selling water taps.

Again, Volgamore tried to remind him that they were there to talk about his grounds for removal, not water, to which Stueck said, “It’s my last time. Give me a break. I’m here because the water is an issue.”

Trustee Mel Cook also tried to step in to return the discussion to Stueck’s removal, which was shot down by Stueck as Cook pointed out to Stueck that this was exactly the kind of thing getting him kicked off the planning commission in the first place.

Volgamore cut off Stueck’s speech after the 24-minute mark, forcing the agenda forward, talking over Stueck to close the public hearing and take a vote for Stueck’s removal.

“Okay, I’m going to continue until you bring the sheriff in here to drag me out,” Stueck said.

Trustees attempted to discourage that, but Stueck was set on doing so. Volgamore closed the public hearing, the board unanimously voted to remove Stueck from the planning commission and then, as Oelke called the sheriff’s department, Volgamore temporarily closed the regular meeting until a deputy could arrive. Until that point, Stueck recounted his previous talking points on water.

When the deputy arrived, Stueck asked her to escort him out in handcuffs since he was apparently intimidating people. The deputy said it wasn’t necessary and led him out of the room so that the meeting could be resumed.

Near the end of the meeting, Stueck’s planning commission vacancy and another vacancy were filled by Bill Thornton and Clark Ashby.

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