September 21, 2017

Board of Commissioners Discuss Courthouse Feasibility Study, Personnel Policy, and Hams

The Heard County Board of Commissioners met last Tuesday at the Courthouse for their regularly scheduled November meeting. All commissioners were present as well as the county clerk Patty Jiles and the county attorney Jerry Ann Connor.

The board approved the October meeting minutes unanimously and then moved on to the amendment of the night’s agenda. Commissioner Isenhower motioned to add a discussion of the possibility of adding a 2nd public comments section to the end of the regular agenda at each meeting.

She stated that she had several members of the public ask her about this. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Cammon and was defeated 3-2 with Allen, Crook, and Caldwell voting against.

Isenhower then motioned to add a discussion of the new policy in regards to access to the county attorney which was recently passed that states that all access to the county attorney by district commissioners must be approved by the commission chair June Jackson.

The motioned was seconded by Cammon and was defeated 3-2 with Allen, Crook, and Caldwell voting against. Isenhower then motioned to add a discussion of the open records fee policy. This motion died for lack of a second.

When Jackson asked if there were any other motions Isenhower replied, “I have a few more but I can see I am not going to get anywhere so rock on.” There were no public comments so the board moved on to old business.

The first topic under old business was a feasibility study of the courthouse. Jackson originally brought a bid to the board at the October meeting in the amount of about $16,000 from the firm of Gardner, Spencer, Smith, Tench, and Jarbeau.

Commissioner Caldwell asked why there was only one bid for the project which would include a study of needed repairs at the courthouse as well as a study on what would be needed for the construction of a new administration building.

Jackson told Caldwell that because the study was a professional service that it was not necessary to get multiple bids. She said that Kevin Hamby highly recommended this company and that the price was considerably less than a normal price for that service.

Caldwell insisted that it did not make much sense to him to only take one bid on the project and Crook agreed. Jackson said that she would speak with Hamby and get more bids/recommendations on the feasibility project.

Jackson stated the project was necessary after several complaints over the past few years by the grand jury about the poor conditions at the courthouse. Isenhower stated that she thought the study would be a waste considering the county already has Mr. Hamby as a project manager and she felt he should be able to handle it.

Jackson replied that the project was well beyond Hamby’s ability and qualifications and that the project was very necessary as it would give a complete picture of everything that would be needed to repair the courthouse as well as what would be required going forward with a new administration building.

Isenhower then raised concerns as she did in the October meeting that she had received numerous complaints from courthouse employees that they were being made sick by the mold in the courthouse.

Commissioner Frank Crook asked Jackson if she had received any complaints about the mold issue and sickness of any employees. Jackson stated that she had not and that she had spoken to all the downstairs courthouse employees recently and none had complained of any sickness from the mold. The following exchange then took place between Crook and Isenhower:

Frank Crook (addressing Isenhower): “Who is lying?”

Karen Isenhower:  “Lying? … Well that I can’t answer but I can tell you that an employee I know of personally went to the doctor and was told that her system is infected with fungus from mold and she worked in the courthouse for 15 years.”

Frank Crook: “Does she work here now?”

Karen Isenhower: “She still works for the county but I am not going to put her name in the public.

Frank Crook: “Well if I am sick with mold I don’t care who knows it.”

Karen Isenhower: “I am just saying it is not my place to put her name out in public.

Frank Crook: “I would like for her to come before us and tell us if she is sick and she needs some help. Everybody is trying to keep this secret and according to you everybody down there is sick with the mold. I have heard you say that yet when I ask her (Jackson) she says nobody has come forward. Are they all coming to you and nobody else?Are they scared is that the story?”

Karen Isenhower: “I can’t say that is not a part of the issue.

Frank Crook: “I think it is all the issue cause I worked in this courthouse myself for years. I know we have mold but don’t come in here and tell me everybody down there is sick with mold.”

Karen Isenhower: “Some people’s systems are more susceptible than others.

Frank Crook: “Well why ain’t they coming forward with it? That’s what I am asking.”

Karen Isenhower: “I will ask them why they haven’t come forward.

Frank Crook: “So now we are boiling it down to one employee?”

Karen Isenhower: “No there are a few.

Frank Crook: “A few? Now a few is more than one.”

Karen Isenhower: “I will discuss it outside of this meeting.

Frank Crook: “Ok I have heard all the answers I need to.”

(Editor’s Note: After the meeting we asked Commissioner Isenhower for the name of the employee she spoke about so we could speak to them off the record to confirm her story. She told us that she would check with that person and get back with us. If she produces this person we will have an update as soon as possible.)

At this point Jackson moved on to the next agenda item under old business in which the board approved a new camping/campsite ordinance. The motion was made by Crook with a second from Cammon. It passed by a 4-1 margin with Isenhower being the only vote against.

Under new business the board discussed and approved the Heard County Personnel Management System Policy.

Isenhower asked the county attorney Jerry Ann Connor if the policy included the fact that the county offices must be open for 40 hours per week. Connor said that yes the county and courthouse offices were required to be open for a minimum of 40 hours per week. Isenhower stated that currently the offices are only open for 37.5 hours per week.

The board discussed the county nepotism policy but decided that part of the policy could be amended later after it had been adopted. The motion was made by Cammon with the second from Crook.

It passed by a 4-1 margin with Isenhower being the only vote against. Isenhower then pulled out a photo she had taken of a county employee in a county vehicle at the Piggly Wiggly. She stated that the picture showed the employee in the vehicle with a child in pajamas.

She said that this was a violation of county policy. Jackson stated there was no specific policy about county employees use of vehicles after hours. The board discussed adding a policy in the future about this matter.

The board then approved unanimously the appointment of Betty Lee to the DFACS board as a replacement for a recently deceased member of the board.

The next discussion was about the Christmas Hams for employees. Jackson brought forth several different bids from various area grocers. The board approved the purchase of the hams from Walker Meats at $1.69/pound. The motion passed by a 4-1 margin with Isenhower voting against.

Isenhower stated that she thought it would be better to give hams to needy families in the community this year rather than the employees. Jackson said that it did not make any sense to not give the hams to the employees as it was intended as a reward for their hard work for the year.

Crook and Caldwell told Isenhower that the county employees were deserving of the hams as appreciation for their hard work year round and that if they felt the need they were more than welcome to give their hams away.

During the next agenda item the board voted to reschedule the regular December meeting to Thursday, December 29, 2011. Finally, the board approved a resolution certifying the SPLOST election by a 4-1 margin with Isenhower voting against and they approved some revisions to the Heard County Timber ordinance unanimously.

County Clerk Patty Jiles

 

Comments

  1. The mold in the downstairs of that courthouse is AWFUL. I have worked for 911 for 16 years, mostly as a part time fill in person, but did my fair share of full time hours also. When 911 was located in the basement of the courthouse we had several instances of a bathroom flooding upstairs, and the water running down into our office. Everything got soaked, there was no way to dry it out fully, and stuff got molded. You could ( and probably still can) smell the mold as soon as you walked in the office. We set out petri dishes and mold would grow in those within 24 hours. And I am almost 100% certain those issues WERE brought to June Jackson’s attention but she apparently has forgotten about it- or since they built the new 911 center I guess its true that she has talked to the CURRENT downstairs employees and no one has had any sickness, but its because the issues are/ were in the old 911 center for the most part- and those ladies thankfully aren’t there any longer. Or at least for the rest of the “downstairs employees” I hope most of that crap was contained to that office- no one should have to deal with those conditions.

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