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Editor’s note: This letter was read by Witt Machine & Tool owner Ken Wittekiend during the Sept. 14 Childress City Council meeting.
First off, I would like to thank the vast majority of the people here in Childress for welcoming us to your community. We look forward to grow in Texas. I grew up down in Burnet County so getting to move back to Texas is like coming home.
To date, we’ve hired six local folks full time at our new facility and expect that number to grow shortly. We’re hoping to need at least three more full time employees before the end of the year.
Now, why I’m at the city council meeting tonight. I have never had the inclination to be involved in local politics. Tonight makes exactly two city council meetings I’ve ever attended, the first was a couple of weeks ago, also here in Childress.
I am here tonight to let you know what has gone with one of your city councilmen and us moving Witt Machine into Childress. For some reason, whether its some feud with the EDC, anti-Second Amendment politics or some vague reason Mike Dietrich has taken it upon himself to continue to harass us in setting up our operations here.
For overstepping his limited authority as a city councilman, he has wasted many hours of my time dealing with the repeated attempts to slow us down or get us shut down.
I believe this all started when we had a local electrician come in to give a quote for some electrical work. When that quote came in unreasonably high for what we needed, whidh was four drops for CNC Machines, and a few plugs. The electric was already in place and inspected by AEP. One of the main reasons we ultimately chose this building was the availability and amount of 3 Phase power already in it. There is a lot of power running all through the finished part of the building. Should we decide to use the back warehouse for machining, there will be extensive electrical work needed.
To date, I’ve spent roughly $1.2 million moving to Childress. Getting a $25 permit wasn’t a problem. At this point, I’ll take two or three. I guess to satisfy Mike Dietrich I should have walked down main street asking random people if I needed a permit until someone said yes.
This brings us to what my now favorite city councilman took it upon himself to do, without the knowledge of the rest of the city council.
The Code Enforcement Officer shows up once. Grady Parr shows him around the building and he says we’re good to go.
Two Code Enforcement Officers are sent back to our facility by Mike Dietrich for some reason. We’re still good.
The Code Enforcement Officer and the City Manager arrive for a third inspection, again, sent by Dietrich. Again we’re good. At this visit there is a telephone argument taking place between the city manager and Dietrich. This gets so out of hand and lasts so long that the City Manager came back to our front office to apologize to the two women working in there.
So you would think we’re done with the inspections now, but no, now we have Fred.
Fred Dietrich, Mike’s father, is caught snooping around the outside of the building by an employee, he leaves.
Fred tries again. He’s caught again and leaves. Never comes in the building, and I wasn’t there so haven’t heard about these visits yet.
I get back and am working in the back warehouse running air lines to a sand blaster with two other employees when I see some guy walking around inside the building. INSIDE THE BUILDING. I go over to him to see what he could possibly want, I have no idea who it is yet. We talked long enough for him to give his first name, then I let him know that we’re busy and he would have to go. A little while later I find out my visitor was Fred Dietrich, the father of the guy causing so much trouble for me, the city manager and the code enforcement officers.
At this point I’ve had enough and called Shade Miller to serve no trespass papers to both Mike and his Father. Apparently during the service to Fred he tried to deny that he was there at all and stated there are a lot of people named Fred. Regardless Fred was ultimately served his papers.
One of the best parts of this whole deal is now that ol’ Fred has been caught illegally inside our building at the request of Mike Dietrich, they both get scared because I was in the Marine Corps, make weapons and in their words, “I’m an expert marksman.” These two characters go to the local Texas Ranger to see about getting me investigated. Almost like I would expect to be investigated if either one of them found me snooping around in their garage at home.
Somewhere in the idle of all these inspections and illegal trespassing the sister, Amy Dietrich who is also running for city council, has seen it fit to show her ignorance on the local Facebook Rant and Rave page. I’d like to clear that up now as well. Witt Machine does have roughly 21 complaints with the BBB over the past three years. What was left out is that in that time we’ve shipped well over 35,000 orders. That works out to a 99.94 percent satisfaction rate. We do hope to do even better with the quality employees here.
You would think this would end here as it’s getting comical at this point, but no.
Dietrich is having trouble getting us shut down locally so he’s now focused on state inspections.
An inspector from the Texas Health and Human Services Division shows up to look for Asbestos. Within minutes he states, “This is a joke, I’ve been used and wasted all this time.” He had driven from Amarillo to Childress to investigate Asbestos in a building that not only didn’t contain Asbestos but because we’re not open to the public wasn’t his jurisdiction anyway. He leaves his cell phone number for me to pass on to the next inspector that will inevitably show up as this is a clear case of harassment by him. He lets us know that OSHA and TxDOT are on the way. I have no idea what TxDOT could possibly want but if anyone here knows if I need a highway permit for this building please let me know as I’d like to buy a couple.
Additionally, Dietrich has filed an FOIA request to try to pull my financials from the EDC as well as snooping around the tax office for something.
I’m not sure who or what will show up at our facility next, but Mike Dietrich has absolutely overstepped any authority he may have as a single city councilman. I don’t appreciate my time being wasted, trespass on a class 3 manufacturing facility, someone trying to get us shut down to further a personal feud with the local EDC or to promote some anti Second Amendment political argument.
I am asking this council to immediately move forward on a vote to censure you for your conduct against my business and the taxpayer funded resources you have wasted trying to further your little feud. I am additionally asking the citizens of Childress to sign the recall petition to remove Mr. Dietrich from the city council
Thank you for your time.