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Head of the Harbor highway supervisor says he was fired from the job

John Precht, the highway superintendent for the Head

John Precht, the highway superintendent for the Head of the Harbor Village for 30 years, walks by the front entrance on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. Precht was suspended from his job in September. Credit: James Carbone

Head of the Harbor highway supervisor John Precht said Monday the village has fired him.

“It was the biggest thing, the thing I did the longest in my life,” Precht said in an interview. “I was proud of the work.”

Village officials would not comment, with Mayor Douglas Dahlgard saying, “This is a sad situation...” in response to a question from a reporter.

Precht, 65, was a 30-year village employee. At a village board meeting earlier this fall, village officials declined to discuss Precht, citing New York State laws on confidentiality for discipline of civil service employees.

Precht said he did not appear at a disciplinary hearing last month to present a defense, saying in an interview that he’d been given inadequate time to prepare.

He said Monday that he is contemplating an appeal of the findings of the hearing. He also said he has filed complaints against the village with the state’s Division of Human Rights that the village discriminated against him because of his age and because he was unable to perform all his work duties after a dog bit him on the hand last summer.

A spokeswoman for the Division would not comment on whether those complaints had been filed. However, Dahlgard said the Division of Human Rights had notified the village of the matter. He would not comment further.

Village labor lawyer David Cohen, of Melville-based Cooper Sapir & Cohen, did not return requests for comment. Cohen has said the disciplinary hearing for Precht was carried out fairly and according to state law.

Former village trustee Ted Naughton credited Precht on Monday with “running the entire highway department for years on end with no help from anyone else … They can’t replace all that experience with rookies without expecting problems.”

Several residents have complained about the board’s treatment of Precht and about road conditions at recent Village Board meetings.

Dahlgard and trustee Judy Ogden have defended the performance of the three-man highway department and said that they are well prepared for the upcoming winter storm season.

Head of the Harbor is a village of approximately 1,500 residents on the north shore of Suffolk County.

Precht was annually paid $88,193 in 2015, according to records.

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