The Harrodsburg City Commission has cleaned house in the street department, voting last week to fire the supervisor and to accept the resignations of five employees.
At a special-called meeting held last Tuesday, the Harrodsburg City Commission went into executive session in order to discuss personnel issues. Following the executive session, Commissioner Ruth Ann Bryant, who oversees the city’s public works department, moved to accept five resignations effective May 28.
The five resigning workers are Branden Parker, a public service worker III who has been with the city since 2016; Hunter Lewis, a public service worker II who has been with the city since 2018; Tyler Jenkins, a public service worker II who has been with the city since 2017; Jackie Pike, a public service worker II who has been with the city since 2019; and James Taylor, a public service worker II who has been with the city since 2013.
After accepting the resignations, Commissioner Adam Johnson, who oversees the city’s police and fire departments, moved to terminate Albert Moore as supervisor of the public works department effective immediately. Johnson’s motion passed with Bryant voting against it, saying, “My heart is telling me no.”
When asked for the reason for Moore’s termination, Mayor Pro Tem Billy Whitenack said Moore had failed to supervise his workers. Beyond that, Whitnack declined to explain anything about the resignations or Moore’s termination.
“It’s still a pending investigation,” Whitenack said.
Both Chief Brian Allen and Assistant Chief Tim Hurt of the Harrodsburg Police Department attended the meeting. After accepting the workers’ resignations, Whitenack moved to deduct time they didn’t work from their final checks.
“I don’t know how you’re going to make heads or tails, they’re all eight hours,” Hurt said. However Hurt said he could provide hours they left and came back.
City Clerk Shavonna Huffman said there are still applications on file. Huffman said there can be a special called meeting for new hires.
While the commission discussed several applicants without naming the applicants, Bryant said she wanted to talk with them first before making a decision.
This is not the first executive session called to discuss Moore’s employment—including at least one meeting earlier this year which Moore attended—with rumors swirling around the department and Moore’s supervision of it. When Johnson recommended hiring someone provisionally, Bryant wondered if the other commissioners had come to the meeting with an applicant already picked out.
“You all had this planned,” Bryant said. While Johnson denied it, Bryant seemed to still have doubts.
“I’m not stupid,” Bryant said.
Bryant said she would inform Moore of his termination. When other commissioners asked if she needed help, she declined it.
Normally the street department employs 10 workers, including the supervisor. While the commissioners said other city workers could step in and help out, they said it was important to replace Moore and the resigned workers as soon as possible.
“I don’t care who we hire,” Whitenack said. “This is an emergency situation and we need some help.”
However, Whitenack also said he didn’t want to rush and end up in the same position the city is in now.
“We need to make sure we do a quality investigation,” Whitenack said.
While city officials say all the employees had gone through a background check with the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts, Chief Allen questioned its thoroughness.
“It don’t work,” Allen said. “Something got missed.”
The city has since replaced at least one of the workers. At an emergency meeting on Monday, June 7, the commission voted to hire Lowell Peavler as public service worker II starting at $12 an hour effective on Monday, June 14, pending background check and drug test.
Including Peavler, there are now five employees in the department. City officials are looking at holding several special-called meetings over the next few weeks. In addition to finding employees for the street department, they also have to finalize the city’s budget for the 2022 fiscal year, which starts July 1.
The next regular Harrodsburg City Commission meeting will be held on Monday, June 14, at 6 p.m.