January 4, 2021 - It was standing room only Monday morning for the first Clarke County Board Meeting of 2021. Many members of the Clarke County Fire Departments, emergency personnel and supporters filled the room to express their opinions and concerns to the supervisors after talk has circulated about the possible mistreatment and wrongful firing of several county employees, including EMA Director/Fire Coordinator Eddie Ivy. All 15 fire departments were represented.
Spokesperson Don Moore expressed to the board what an asset Clarke County has in our Emergency Management Director Eddie Ivy.
Moore started with his credentials and how he works around the state flying with Air Care and teaching classes with Jones College, as well as local fire departments and emergency personnel, so he is intertwined with this type of work on a daily basis all over the state.
“What we have in our fire coordinator office and our EMA coordinator agency is above average. What we have here for the size that we are is really remarkable. That truly is a testament over the last eight to nine years of the fire coordinator’s and EMA’s office.”
Moore spoke of the direct correlation of the EMA/fire coordinator office and the local volunteer fire departments which resulted in lower fire ratings, in turn bringing lower insurance rates for homeowners. He also spoke of grant writing; obtaining several water tankers and jaws of life equipment being placed strategically throughout the county; fire recruitment and personally training our emergency personnel; and working and coordinating with all of the local medical facilities, clinics, hospital, home health, and mental health facilities during the covid-19 pandemic.
“Clarke County’s local EMA director is heavily intertwined with agencies in the state and broadly involved in all areas throughout the state of Mississippi and southeast region, whether it be the National Weather Service, local news reporters, MEMA, or DEQ, or fire departments, or the State Fire Academy, the Board of Health and more,” added Moore.
“A majority of the time he provides 24/7 mutual support for our county services and other agencies whether it be the sheriff's office, providing rescue, search and rescue, light plants for crime scenes and wrecks, traffic control, submitting reports, answering ems calls when there is no ambulance available. He also responds with the coroner’s office. The intertwining within the county is heavy, and this is just some of the true support that Eddie provides for this county, and that's a true testament of his dedication here.”
After speaking on the positive aspects of the director, Moore spoke to the board about things that have been witnessed, spoken of and rumored including verbal abuse, bullying, threatened with termination, and being treated unfairly by some of the board of supervisors “all because of a professional, not a personal, a professional difference of opinion,” stated Moore.
“These professional opinions were gathered with over 30 plus years of experience, which is three times more than most of you have in this room combined, of what he has and what he does. He's not the only one. There are other members of the county that had been bullied and threatened. There's been rumors, and like I said, I've not substantiated some of these, but the word used was insubordination. Insubordi-nation is an immediately fireable offense, and if that truly was the case and can be proven, that should have happened immediately. It should have been at the next board meeting.
What I feel like happened was we used a big terminology to threaten somebody with a job; that is the true fashion of coercion, that is illegal, and we are aware of it. There have been ethical complaints over and over again (with the Mississippi State Board of Ethics). I'm not sure how they disappeared, but we will figure that out. It is unethical and it's completely unfair for any person in this county, especially employed with this county, to come to work and fear of not having a job tomorrow, or in two weeks. It's completely unethical without addressing those persons correctly. It is unfair, and it's time this stops.
If none of these are true, and they don't apply to you, you have nothing to worry about. If they are, I expect that you will correct those actions moving forward, and take that life lesson with you.
We hope the Board of Supervisors will continue to uphold their responsibility to coordinate a coherent and unified effort with all employees of this county in order to better serve all of our citizens.
More than anything, this world needs more people that can disagree and still function on a day to day basis with each other, and not hate each other. We need that not just in this county, but Lord knows we need this in the world,” stated Moore.
President Mosley stated his appreciation for everyone attending and for their words.
“We appreciate what ya’ll do for the county. We try to fund you the best you can. I know it’s hard to get volunteers these days. I’ve always told Eddie he overdoes his job; he certainly doesn’t under do it just to get a check,” said Mosley.
In other board news:
• 2020 President Lorenzo Carter passed the gavel to new president Paul Mosley. Mickey Long was named Vice President.
• Road Manager Brian Dace mentioned to the board that road signs are being heavily stolen in the county and this costs tax payers money. Cameras have been placed at strategic locations.
• Jeff Arrington and Jennifer Bozeman with Creature Comforts Animal Shelter provided a new yearly contract with the county for support. This was tabled until the next meeting.
• One person presented questions to the board about hiring practices in the Tax Assessor’s office. The board informed her that those questions will have to be directed to Hope Herrington. Hope is an elected official, therefore, it is her decision as to who is hired, not the board. This was tabled until the next meeting.
• At the end of the meeting, all county employees were rehired for the year. The only change was the contract between the county and Scott Evans, IT Coordinator, was not renewed by supervisors. In his place, Slade Barnett of Waynesboro was hired on contract to provide county computer services.
Regular board meetings are always open to the public and are held every first and third Monday of each month, except holidays. Monday’s meeting was recessed until next Monday, January 11 at 9 a.m.