Stapleton fires police chief
By Carol McLeod
Stapleton city council, after an executive session lasting about 45 minutes, voted to terminate the employment of Police Chief Tim Taylor during its monthly council meeting Thursday, March 11.
Mayor June Rooks said in an interview this week three part-time officers have been hired to work for the city. As of press time Tuesday, a chief had not been named.
“I didn’t know anything about this,” the mayor said. “I did not know one thing about it till I got to the council meeting.”
Rooks said the officers are already POST certified and working for other law enforcement agencies.
“Two of them work for Wrens and one for the county,” she said.
Rooks said none of the officers had been contacted prior to Taylor’s termination.
“I let the police committee pick out some,” she said. “I think they already had someone in mind. And I just hired one. We had one part-time (officer) who had never resigned so he came back.”
Councilmen Kevin Prescott and Jason Irby are the police committee.
Rooks said she has someone in mind as the chief but hasn’t decided yet.
Councilwoman Syble Sheppard made the motion to terminate Taylor and the vote was unanimous. Stapleton’s mayor can vote only in the case of a tie; so, Rooks did not vote. Because of a family emergency, Councilwoman Helen Landrum left the meeting before the executive session and was not present for the vote.
The reasons given for Taylor’s firing were failure to perform duties, inefficiency in performing duties and misrepresentation to the mayor and city council. The termination was effective that night.
In other news, Prescott was asked to get two more bids for a GPS unit the council wants to purchase, a resolution for a new Special Project Local Option Sales tax was passed and council decided to invest city funds into four separate CDs.
The council’s next regularly scheduled meeting is for Thursday, April 8, at 6 p.m. in city hall. It is a public meeting and open to anyone.
Student brings toy gun to school
By Faye Ellison
A Glascock County juvenile high school student was recently suspended after bringing a toy gun to school.
On Feb. 2, a high school student of the Glascock County Consolidated School brought an air-soft gun to school, according to School Superintendent Jim Holton.
“Although the air-soft gun is a toy designed to shoot plastic balls, the actual toy gun brought to school was inoperable and clearly could not propel the plastic balls,” Holton said. “The real danger in this case was that the air-soft gun in question closely resembled a real handgun. In fact, without close examination it was very difficult to distinguish this toy from the real thing.”
Holton said the student was suspended from school until a student discipline tribunal could be held as GCCS discipline code requires. The student discipline tribunal decision called for the student to be suspended for nine days.
Holton said the student has since returned to school.
“State law mandates that a student discipline tribunal suspend a student for at least one calendar year if they are determined to have brought a firearm to school,” Holton explained. “That requirement is limited to weapons that expel a projectile by the action of an explosive. Some guns operate through air pressure, springs, rubber bands or other mechanisms, and therefore are not included in the mandatory punishment required by state law.”
Holton said the school system handles discipline issues with those items on a case-by-case basis and does not mandate a specific minimum punishment.
Holton asked for parents and students to leave items that could be a weapon or harmful to others at home.
“Parents please help us by reminding your children not to bring anything that could be considered a weapon to school,” Holton said.
The STAR students for Jefferson County were recently announced as Brandon Kyle Hinkston of Wrens for Jefferson County High School and Lindsey Faye Haythorn for Thomas Jefferson Academy.
At the annual STAR Student Banquet held Monday, Feb. 22, it was announced that Hinkston was picked as the STAR student for Jefferson County.
Hinkston is the son of William and Sonia Barnes. He is on the Math Team, is in the Technology Student Association and competed and placed second in the County Writing Competition in 2008.
He works on the literary magazine for JCHS as an editor, author and contributor and is a representative for JCHS Principal’s Student Advisory Council.
Outside of school, Hinkston volunteers annually for the Relay for Life cancer research fundraiser, assists the Wrens-North Jefferson Optimist Club with the annual Law Enforcement Banquet and submits his own pieces of artwork to the Firehouse Gallery in Louisville.
He picked Wrens Elementary School Teacher Vicki Goodson as his STAR teacher.
“She is a wonderful person and a talented educator whose classes I thoroughly enjoyed,” said Hinkston of Goodson. “She taught me three different subjects and did an amazing job at all of them.”
Hinkston said he strived to become a STAR student out of a promise to his mother.
“The first time I went to Honor’s Night in fifth grade, I saw the crystal bowl that was awarded to the STAR student,” he said. “My mom thought it was beautiful, so I promised to get her one. I always keep my word.”
As far as support for this academic achievement as well as through his academic career, Hinkston is thankful for friends, teachers and his family.
“My family has loved and supported me, and my father in particular has provided invaluable guidance and advice,” he said. “My teachers have taught me all they could and my friends have kept me sane.”
Hinkston gave advice to students who want to succeed.
“Concerning the SAT in particular, be prepared for a test of ridiculous length,” he said. “It strains endurance more than intellect and is as exhausting as any physical activity. Sleep well the night before and bring something to eat during breaks.”
Reflecting back, Hinkston said JCHS’ faculty and staff are very friendly and willing to help when needed. He also said the school’s Advanced Preparation classes have been enlightening to him, adding that the media center at the school has a wide variety of books available.
Haythorn is the daughter of Mark and Teresa Haythorn. She is the class treasurer and has received many awards in her high school career. She participates in many different areas of volunteer work, like helping the local food pantry, the American Heart Association and more. She also participates in several clubs at her school as well as competing in track for the past few years.
Haythorn chose Michael Oglesby as her STAR Teacher.
“I chose Mr. Oglesby because he was nurturing and showed love and compassion. He built my self esteem and opened many doors in my education,” said Haythorn. “He taught me more than just history and science, he taught me how to love and respect others.”
Oglesby said it was an honor to be chosen, especially as Haythorn’s middle school teacher, a sight rarely seen from high school students. He said he talked with Goodson at the banquet about how both of them didn’t teach the students in high school.
Haythorn said that in middle school, she learned about the STAR student award and has always set it as one of her personal goals before graduation.
Several people have influenced her, she said, including Mr. Oglesby, Tommy New, Crystal Swan and Deann McNair.
“They have supported me by being great role models and taking a personal interest in my academic developments and achievements,” Haythorn said.
In words of inspiration to younger students, Haythorn said students who want to succeed should have a goal and plan to reach that goal and must start early.
“You can achieve anything with hard work and dedication,” Haythorn said.
Haythorn said she enjoyed the family environment at her school.
“I could openly talk about Jesus in my school with teachers and students,” she said. “My teachers put a lot of work into making sure I receive the best education so I will be prepared for college.”
She said her teachers would always challenge her to think beyond the facts in any of her textbooks.
Wadley officials still at odds over police chief
By Carol McLeod
In a continuing dispute over the employment status of Wadley Police Chief Wesley Lewis and Wadley Police Sgt. Ricky Worman, Wadley Mayor Herman Baker has vetoed a 3-1 decision by the city’s council to fire those two officers.
The disagreement began at the first council meeting of the year when Councilman Albert Samples made a motion to rehire all the city employees but defer rehiring the police department until he and the rest of the council could meet with them.
The motion passed. The police officers continued to work and get paid.
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The city’s policy for years has been to rehire city employees at the beginning of each calendar year.
“We’ve gotten so many complaints that I wanted to talk to them,” Samples said in an interview after January’s council meeting. “It’s not that we’re not going to rehire them. We just want to talk with them first.”
In February’s monthly meeting, rehiring the officers was on the agenda; but, Samples said there had not been a meeting with the officers yet.
A called meeting was scheduled for the following Friday, Feb. 12.
During that meeting, Councilwoman Edie Pundt made a motion to rehire the police officers and the chief. Councilman John Maye voted for the motion; while, Councilmen Samples and Izell Mack and Councilwoman Dorothy Strowbridge voted against the motion.
Baker said, “By executive order, the police are rehired,” and ended the meeting. As mayor, Baker has the authority to hire and fire city personnel subject to council approval.
The city’s attorney, John Murphy, had not been present at that meeting.
During the city’s March meeting, Monday, March 8, Murphy said the city’s charter gives the mayor the authority to hire and fire employees with council approval.
Citizens packed the city council meeting room, some having to stand outside in the hallway.
Samples made a motion to overturn the mayor’s executive order. The motion was seconded and passed 3-2, with Samples, Strowbridge and Mack voting for the motion; while, Pundt and Maye voted against it.
“So, tomorrow, we don’t have a police department,” said one of the citizens present at the meeting.
Samples said that was not the intent of the motion.
“Unless you all rehire the police tomorrow, you’ll leave the city unprotected,” Murphy told the council.
After further discussion with the lawyer, Samples asked to amend the motion and rehire everyone except Lewis and Worman. The motion was passed by Samples, Strowbridge and Mack. Pundt and Maye voted against the motion.
The following day, Baker rehired Lewis and Worman.
Several city council members requested a called meeting, which was held Thursday, March 11.
In that meeting, three of the five Wadley city council members voted to override Baker’s decision.
Samples, Strowbridge and Mack voted to override the decision; while Maye voted against it. Pundt was not present at the meeting.
At Thursday’s meeting, Murphy told the council he had had time to review the city’s charter since the council’s last meeting.
“This is what I have decided needs to be done,” he said.
Murphy said after the vote, the city clerk has 96 hours to present a resolution to the mayor. The mayor has seven days during which he can veto the resolution. The city council can overturn the veto at the next regular council meeting, but that requires at least four votes in support of that.
“That’s my legal opinion,” Murphy said. “What’s been done up to now was not in accordance exactly with the charter.”
Murphy said the mayor can veto anything the council decides. The council can override any veto with four votes, he said.
“This is obviously an issue that’s important to everybody and is controversial,” he said.
Samples made a motion to override the mayor’s decision to rehire Lewis and Worman. Strowbridge and Mack voted with him. Maye voted against.
The mayor vetoed the vote the next day. Samples, Strowbridge and Mack will be able to override the veto during the next council meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, April 12, at 7:30 p.m. at city hall, but will need at least one more vote.