Thursday, August 24, 2006
More interviews set for two city positions
By SUE WATSON
Holly Springs aldermen and the mayor are holding a second round of interviews for applicants for police chief and general manager of the utility department this week.
The motion to reinterview all the candidates - four for police chief and two for general manager - took place in executive session with Alderman Tim Liddy making a motion seconded by Alderman Nancy Hutchens to reinterview the two candidates for general manager. The motion passed 4-1 with Alderman Naylond Hayes casting an opposing vote. A motion to reinterview the four candidates for police chief was made by Hutchens and seconded by Liddy and passed unanimously.
The two important leadership positions have been vacant for awhile - with the police chief position open for over two years and the general manager’s position open since April.
The matter of urgency to fill the two positions was broached in open session by Alderman Russell Johnson twice.
“I have a community concern, (regarding) the chief of police and manager of the utility department,” Johnson said following a budget request from the president of the Chamber of Commerce. “I hope we can put this on the agenda. The chief of police has been vacant 25 months. This is a concern of the citizens and as alderman I get questioned daily.”
“The concern needs to be brought to a resolution,” said Mayor Andre’ DeBerry before going on with business on the agenda, including taking reports from the fire chief and director of information technology.
DeBerry then raised the topic of scheduling budget hearings with the board of aldermen and added that he wanted a motion to advertise the position for community development director recently left vacant by the death of Ruben Pegues.
“I have some recommendations to the board for the budget,” DeBerry said.
“I think before we advertise, we need to clearly define that position (the job description),” Johnson said.
DeBerry said he envisions the community development office expanding its role and serving as a clearing house for information to development groups like the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority (IDA).
DeBerry then addressed the process of hiring key personnel like department heads which is born by the board of aldermen and mayor, as a response to Johnson’s concern.
“There will never be a total source of absolute agreement with what we do,” he said, “of being human.
“I will say to the board (during) this whole process I think some may have questioned my motives. They are totally legitimate and honest.
“I do think at this point in time I have to stand up for a general principal and one I have to stand on. At the end of the day, I think we are better served when we work together. I welcome dissension.
“Alderman Johnson, you are right. You have been bombarded and everybody here has been bombarded.”
DeBerry then discussed two candidates for general manager of the utility department while aldermen thumbed over their resumes.
“Are we supposed to open this (discuss this in open session)?” Johnson asked.
“Personnel is one matter you can go in closed session or you can discuss it openly,” said Ki Jones, board attorney.
“What I am trying to do is lay out something about personnel itself,” DeBerry said.
He then discussed some of the strengths he sees in the two candidates for general manager and how their salary requirements could play in the decision of whom to hire without stating what the requests were.
Hayes asked the mayor whether one of the candidates agreed to move to Holly Springs.
“Yes,” said the mayor.
Johnson said he had missed the first interview with that candidate and would not want to be in the position to cast a deciding vote, since he had not met the man.
Hayes then motioned to hire one of the candidates.
“I strongly recommend without reservation and move we hire (name withheld by report out of fairness to the candidates) as general manager,” said Hayes.
The motion died for lack of a second.
Liddy then motioned to go into executive session to discuss all the candidates for the two positions.
Several members of the audience who came to the board meeting to await the vote to hire a police chief and general manager objected.
Liddy said the board would be in executive session just a few minutes.
When the board came out of executive session, W.A. McMillan asked to address the chairman.
“After three years of looking for a chief of police and six months for a person in charge of utilities, could it be possible you need more time for that?” he asked. “You table that and call your executive session after we sat here 50 minutes.
“If it is going to be open session, it should be open for the public. I have a suggestion. I hope you will give it careful consideration. It does hurt many of us (to sit and wait).”
In other business, the board of aldermen:
Report News: (662) 252-4261
Web Site managed and maintained