In Jan. 17-23, 2008 issue By Greg Wells Times Journal Managing Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
JAMESTOWN - County Judge-Executive Mickey Garner this week asked the fiscal court to take the power to oversee operations away from the 911 Dispatch Board.
The move came a week after that board had made a personnel decision regarding an employee under Dispatch Director Sheila McGaha. Garner's contention was that, "Dispatch needs to be under the fiscal court."
A somewhat familiar refrain since it was earlier this year that he had worked to block the Ambulance Board from taking over all responsibility for the dispatch center, which is located inside the ambulance building.
In this recent incident Garner complained to the court that the board was "out of control" and cited a recent meeting that he said went entirely too long and he intimated that possibly the board was not acting as it should.
Monday night Garner said the Dispatch Board could continue because it was required by law, but that going forward decisions such as personnel matters should be reviewed by the court, and then only when outside the department's budget.
"Everytime you go to a meeting there's a lot of confusion over who's the boss there," Garner said.
There was strong opposition voiced from the audience and some trepidation from the members of the court over the legality of unilaterally changing the agreement which funds the center without the approval of the other parties involved.
The dispatch center is funded by the cities' tax money, a portion of the ambulance district taxes and the county's general fund.
Garner told the court that he had talked with the mayors and said that there was "no problem."
This was not a feeling shared by one of the mayors.
Russell Springs Mayor Hollis DeHart said he understood nothing of that from the abbreviated mention Garner had made of the topic with him. "He asked me if I had any objections to the fiscal court looking into the issue. I said 'no,'" DeHart said Tuesday.
The mayor said at no time did they discuss stripping the board of its oversight powers.
That board is made up of the chiefs of police of both cities as well as the sheriff, one fire chief and the ambulance service director.
Russell Springs Police Chief Joseph M. Irvin is presently the head of the board.
Irvin addressed the recent board meeting in an interview this week.
"It was a lengthy meeting," Irvin said. "But we wanted everyone involved to have a chance to express their thoughts and feelings on the issues. I didn't want to spend all of that time down there myself, but we did out best to work things out."
He said the meeting was to address grievances filed first by one employee who quit after filing the grievance. Irvin said that in all three employees had signed the grievance against the supervisor and that the board was doing its best to work out those issues.
Irvin explained that he couldn't go into detail because it was a personnel matter that was as yet not completely resolved but he said the employee who had resigned was reinstated by a unanimous vote and that the board was going to be addressing issues in the future with regard to problems at the dispatch center.
Irvin expressed some surprise at Garner's actions.
"Mickey Garner stated during the open session of that meeting that he would not work under the conditions outlined in the grievance," Irvin said.
Irvin was not the only one caught unaware by Garner's statements to the fiscal court.
Jamestown Police Chief Mike Keaton said "I don't know where that's coming from and I wasn't informed (about any move stripping the board's oversight). I'm in the dark on it. I really don't know why (Garner would suggest it)."
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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