Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Evans is terminated
The Cocke County Recreation Board, meeting on Monday voted to terminate Recreation Department Director Brian Evans. In March, the board placed Evans on administrative leave with pay. At the time board member Jeff Gentry explained the reasons behind the suspension. "We got reports from the (Cocke County) Trustees Office that there hadn't been any deposits made since December 2019. Deposits are to be made every three days, if money has been collected". The suspension came after the board agreed to ask the Tennessee Comptrollers Office to investigate the department. "Ball games were played nearly every weekend but no deposits were made," added Gentry. The issue of timely deposits had been an audit finding for a number of years and Evans had been chastised previously for not making deposits within three days of collection as required by state law. The board had previously invited Evans to attend a meeting to explain the lack of timely deposits but he declined, saying the board had "created a hostile work environment" for him. Board member Jason Martin made the motion to terminate Evans and the motion was supported by all members except for Jason Grooms. Grooms was recently appointed to the body and he said he was not familiar enough with the situation to support the motion. Chair Butch Phillips talked to the Citizen Tribune about the basis for the termination. "Our intention is to enforce the guidelines and rules that were established by the State of Tennessee, the mayor's office and this board of directors. Insubordination is the reason for the termination". Phillips said Evans had guidelines for his position a Director "but he simply refused to follow those guidelines. He would not enforce the policies, and did not have the proper people handle the recreation activities." Interim Director Scottie Thornton said recreation activities will begin on June 15, following CDC guidelines. A handicapped restroom, storage and concession stand are planned for Edgemont Elementary, and upgraded facilities also are planned for other schools. Grooms called on the board to apply for more grants because he said the department needs more funding, and he suggested with more money, the department could offer additional sports.

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