Doug Grover's first act as the newly hired secretary-manager for the Kennewick Irrigation District in 2007 was to fire a whistleblower employee.
His second was to hire an assistant who had the qualifications he lacked, a longtime KID board member testified Friday.
William Kinsel, a 25-year former board member, said he did agree to hire Grover, but not to fire the agency's engineering manager Brad Wellenbrock.
Kinsel admitted Grover wasn't his first choice for the job.
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Wellenbrock is suing KID in Benton County Superior Court, claiming he was fired in retaliation for complaining about board member Loren Watts for allegedly taking water for his own use without proper authorization.
Testimony Friday focused on why Kinsel supported hiring Grover and the board's involvement in Wellenbrock's dismissal.
"I voted against (Grover) at the executive session," Kinsel testified Friday, reading from his deposition statements made earlier this summer.
Yet KID board minutes show Kinsel made the motion to hire Grover during the board's public session held immediately after the closed-door session Oct. 31, 2007.
Grover was a board member and fruit orchardist who quit the board in late summer to apply for the top job that paid $110,000 a year.
The Oct. 31 vote was invalid because the KID meeting was not properly noticed as a public meeting under state law.
"We erred (in doing) the first vote," Kinsel testified.
So one week later on Nov. 7, the KID board again voted to hire Grover. The next day, Gro-ver put Wellenbrock on paid administrative leave and told him he intended to fire him.
The same day, Grover hired Frank Corpus, who had a professional engineer's license and expertise in geotechnical engineering, as deputy operations/engineering manager.
Kinsel testified that he preferred Corpus instead of Grover for the top administrative job, but he voted for Grover to go along with the rest of the board.
Kinsel said hiring Corpus at more than $100,000 a year for a newly created position was justified because KID needed to have a licensed engineer in a top management position.
Kinsel testified that he knew little about Watts' alleged misconduct, though he agreed a board member using his position for personal benefit would be wrong.
Kinsel also said the board reprimanded Watts during a closed session in the fall 2007. But details of why he was reprimanded were not revealed in court.
Watts resigned from the board in early December 2007, citing growing pressures with his business. That resignation came less than a month after Grover was hired.
Kinsel testified that Watts' resignation had nothing to do with the reprimand.
Kinsel also insisted that Grover acted alone, without any direction or input from the board in firing Wellenbrock.
"At no time did the board talk about Wellenbrock being fired. There was no retaliation. That's (just) a supposition," Kinsel told the jury.
Kinsel insisted during the two hours he was on the witness stand that the board at no time discussed Wellenbrock in a negative way during the summer of 2007. He also said he never heard Grover speak ill of Wellenbrock during any board meeting in 2007.
But Wellenbrock testified Thursday that board member John Pringle apologized to him about Grover criticizing him during 2007 for not being a licensed engineer.
Kinsel testified that he was "not particularly" interested in seeing Wellenbrock fired.
He also said that whatever Wellenbrock alleged about Watts would have been shared with Vic Johnson, the interim district manager, not the board.
Testimony resumes Tuesday in the trial that is expected to go through next week.