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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

CLB declines to rescind fire civil service board
Members of the Cocke County Legislative Body(CLB) declined Monday evening to rescind an earlier decision to establish a county fire civil service board. Mayor Crystal Ottinger had vetoed the move initially but the veto was overridden, and County Attorney Carter Moore has opined that the civil service board violates state law. She put the issue on the CLB agenda terming the civil service board "illegal". Although state law is silent on the issue of such a civil service board, Moore says the county has no authority to establish a board unless it is given that specific authority by the state. A fire civil service board has been established and is functioning, however the CLB had previously asked the state legislature to pass a Private Act to clarify the issue. The legislature recently declined to pass the private act saying the issue is a local one. To complicate the matter, when the CLB asked state Attorney General Herbert Slatery to opine on the issue he declined, saying it was a local issue. More recently Mayor Ottinger terminated Fire Chief William Smallwood, during an investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, of alleged inappropriate behavior by department employees. The termination is expected to result in a lawsuit, which Commissioner Clayton "Skip" Ellison, himself county foreman, said should resolve the question of the civil service board legality. He and Mayor Ottinger sparred over the issue. "Jeremy Faison(state representative) said it was a local matter, never said it was illegal and the state attorney general never said it is illegal. So I think this should be tabled until the lawsuit is over and I put that in the form of a motion", Ellison said But Mayor Ottinger told the body she will continue to put the issue on the agenda of the CLB. "I've got to go by state law, and state law says it is a violation. I will not adhere to anything the civil service board does. I will not have any dealings with the civil service board for the fire department," responded Ottinger. The commission voted 7 to 6 to rescind the earlier move to create the fire civil service board, however a majority of the body, or eight votes was needed to rescind the action. In other action, the body voted to transfer money within the sheriff's department budget to fund the depleted medical category. Finance Manager Anne Bryant Hurst reported that an inmate recently had to be flown to a Knoxville Hospital. The initial bill for the flight was $40,000 but was negotiated down to $14,000. Sheriff Armando Fontes stressed that the jail is required to follow medical recommendations from a physician and pay the costs which this year have increased. The body approved a resolution to lease the county owned Jack Farm to Joseph "Tim" Smart for $5,525. The body also approved an updated policy manual for the sheriff's department. Commission Chair Clay Blazer announced that the commission will meet in special session on May 8 at 6 pm to hear from representatives of the Tennessee Corrections Institute regarding certification of the jail.


Return to Today's News Stories - Front Page

Sunday, December 10, 2017

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    Friday, December 08, 2017

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    Thursday, December 07, 2017

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    Wednesday, December 06, 2017

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