Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

- Subsribe at
December 22nd, 2016

County Worker Realities – Hope and Light – The Plight of the Sullivan County Workforce Part 2

There has been much discussion over last week’s “Mouth That Roars” column in part written by Jerry Ebert – Sullivan County’s Teamster Representative.

Some residents fully understand the hardships our Sullivan County Workforce face each day while others do not care.  They claim that if they are not happy “they should find another job.”

The truth is that we all need and rely on our County Government workforce and it is essential we understand they deserve to be counted.

I asked Jerry Ebert to further his discussion about the Sullivan County Workforce and here is what he had to say in Part 2 of The Plight of the Sullivan County Workforce.

 Sullivan County Employee Realities:

Hope and Light In the County Workforce

 By Jerry Ebert, Teamster Representative for Sullivan County Employees

In this the holiday season, the hardest jobs belong to those who help our children, our families, our elderly, our mentally ill, our infirm, and our veterans.

Every day they and their support staffs give hope and light to our county’s most needy residents.

Yet they themselves face darkness and pure evil that often magnifies this time of year.

One longtime Child Protective Services staff member recently spoke about the horrors she’s witnessed in her many years “I see the eyes of so many kids,” she said.

She talked of a pre-teen prostituted by her parents…a baby with maggots in her diaper…brothers and sisters abandoned by their addicted parents…kids molested by family members…toddlers surviving on raw hot dogs.

I let her continue. At one point, she vividly described a drunk father pointing a gun at her head as she attempted to remove his children from his rat-and-bug-infested home.

She had a bag of small wrapped gifts near her feet. “That’s my emergency stash for some of the kids on my caseload….I know damn well these’ll be the only presents they get.”

“Has it gotten worse over the years?” I asked.

“Oh yeah,” was her quick reply, “for a bunch of reasons.”

She listed the usual suspects: increased drug and alcohol abuse, the glorification of sex and violence, the higher costs of everyday survival…she said many parents work two jobs, which often leaves the kids unprotected against molesters.

“Child abusers are usually wolves in sheep’s clothing, waiting for the right opportunity.”

She said her friends in other departments such as Probation, Community Services and the Sheriff’s office, who often interact with those same kids and their predators or aberrant parents, all agree: our social fabric seems to be disintegrating.

“And it’s not just in Sullivan County…it’s all over the world.”

Then she added something unexpected: “There’s just so little hope and light.”

This reminded me of something I witnessed while visiting a county Social Worker in the Mental Health unit recently. An emaciated, frail woman in her mid-20s was just leaving the Social Worker’s office as I entered. I noticed tears in the Social Worker’s eyes.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Well…I’ve been working with her…she’s off drugs for a few weeks now…she had been a prostitute, then she lived with an older man who supplied her with drugs in return for sex….but that’s not what got me.”

She paused, then said: “At the end of today’s session, she looked at me and asked ‘Am I worth saving?’”

“How….how do I answer that in a way that comes close to giving that girl what she needs?” Then she wiped her eyes and said “I just have to keep working with her, and help her put herself back together.”

Without thinking I blurted out something my father once said: “God doesn’t demand that we succeed, He only demands that we try.” It seemed such an inadequate way to reassure her not to worry about the final outcome of the many challenges she faces.

There are two medical words for what the Social Worker was experiencing: vicarious trauma, and compassion fatigue.  Simply put, she was absorbing the trauma her client carried, and it was exhausting her spirit.

If vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue were communicable diseases, I would estimate nearly the entire county workforce is infected.

And they don’t get a chance to recover; pacing the waiting room are more clients, with their own traumas to be healed.

To make things worse, over the past decade virtually every county department has been “streamlined” and reduced to skeleton crews, for the otherwise-worthy cause of holding down county taxes.

No one enters these county professions for the money. Most of them are paying off huge college loans for the degrees and certifications required for the jobs in the first place. They know coming in that the county pay scale is lower by $10,000 or more per year than equivalent jobs with the state, the school districts, the correctional facilities, and most towns and villages (I attached the pay scale in last week’s column).


One employee at the county budget hearing in early December spoke about her caseload of over 90 mentally-ill clients. I wondered how she shuts work off when she goes home. She’s a single mother, and mentioned that because of her low pay she hasn’t been able to fix her oil burner since October.

In every department providing services to our citizens, personnel are down and workloads are up. With the casinos rolling in 2018, we can only expect more children of catastrophe, more trauma among adults and the elderly to manifest itself…more challenges and pressure.

Recently a local town posted a Civil Service Recreation Department position for $55,000 per year, which is much more than some of the toughest county jobs pay. Some county employees applied. Those who didn’t were angry and depressed at the injustice of the pay difference.

So, what motivates county workers to stay?

Simply put, they believe in their work. They want to give hope and light to people.

Some cite their religion, and believe they’re doing the work God needs them to do.

Then there’s a few atheists and agnostics who take on this challenge because they want to help people. I figure they may not know God, but God surely knows them, and that’s what matters.

These people give light and hope to those walking in darkness around and among us.  

It’s not just those rescuing our kids from abuse and neglect, counselling our mentally ill, treating our addicted, and administering to our elderly at the Adult Care Center.

It’s the Sheriffs and Probation employees risking their lives to protect our families from the violent and abusive.

It’s the 911 Center employees guiding us through a medical emergency.

It’s those in Social Services and Public Health Nursing tending to the needy.

It’s those in the County Clerk’s Office, DMV, Real Property Tax and more assisting our citizens in their everyday pursuits.

It’s ALL those in county service, including those plowing our highways during a blizzard, training our unemployed, or home-visiting our infirm.

In dozens of different jobs – they help the people of our county in ways that no other government entity helps us.

If you’re the praying kind, as I am, say a prayer for those on the front lines of our struggle for a healthy, safe society.

All year long these county employees give the hope and light we celebrate this holiday season.

Pray they find the light to sustain their own spirits.

Thank you – Jerry Ebert for reaching out to the residents of Sullivan County to understand and help support our workforce.

Wishing Everyone a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season


Bill Liblick has made a name for himself on National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the “MOUTH THAT ROARS” Column in THE SULLIVAN COUNTY POST.


2 comments to County Worker Realities – Hope and Light – The Plight of the Sullivan County Workforce Part 2

  • Jodi kane

    Wh at a moving and compassionate article. God bless those who protect and serve our most vulnerable.

  • Debra Haas

    So very well written, full of truth, love and compassion! Thank you and wish you a safe and Happy Holiday season as well!