An Oswego County Highway Department employee, who is alleged to have driven a county roadside mower to his property as well as verbally accosting the Town of Hannibal deputy highway superintendent, was on his lunch hour and not far from the work site, hence, did no wrong, according to officials.
According to Hannibal Town Highway Superintendent Dan Mahaney, it was agreed with county Highway Superintendent Kurt Ospelt and county Deputy Superintendent Howard Nolan that county employee Duane Shepard did nothing wrong when he drove the county-owned mower to his property and got into an argument with town Deputy Highway Superintendent Nelson Hawkins.
“He did it on his own time,” Mahaney said. “Luckily, they were both on their lunch hour, which is unpaid.”
Mahaney added it was “just a verbal disagreement.”
Mahaney said Shepard had been roadside mowing on County Route 21 and 34 in the village June 20 and had taken the mower to his property for lunch.
“Duane didn’t do anything wrong with the county equipment,” Mahaney said.
Mahaney added that Ospelt was unable to be reached the day of the incident so Nolan was contacted and went out to the site. They all later spoke and agreed the incident did not involve the county or the town, he said.
Hawkins filed a complaint with the town against Shepard over the incident, according to Town of Hannibal Supervisor Ron Greenleaf. The board called a special meeting to address the issue.
“The whole thing was blown out of proportion,” Greenleaf said.
He added that because Shepard was on his lunch hour, he was on his property as a village resident.
The board concluded that the two men should work out their differences, Greenleaf noted.
Along with his full-time job with the county highway department, Shepard also works as the chief operator of Hannibal’s water department and is a trustee on the Village of Hannibal board.
He has been employed with the county since March 2011, according to county records.
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