County official fired

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, August 29, 2018

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Wise County Public Works Director Keith Stone was fired Monday for nepotism.

County commissioners voted for his removal following a closed door session at the end of their regular meeting.

According to a statement read by commissioners attorney Thomas Aaberg, it was discovered Aug. 20 through the human resources department that Stone had hired his son-in-law to a position in the public works department.

“As most of you know, nepotism is prohibited by local government officials that have the final hiring and firing authority in their department,” Aaberg read. “When committed, it requires removal of the official [from the] position. Therefore, unfortunately and regrettably, Keith Stone will have to be removed as head of public works.”

Precinct 1 Commissioner Danny White made the motion to fire Stone, effective immediately.

“Regrettably, I second it,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns said.

White added, “with deep regret.”

The motion passed unanimously.

The vacant position will be posted, and County Judge J.D. Clark recommended public works foreman Ross Jones manage the day-to-day business of the department in the meantime.

“But any financial or personnel matters need to come to me,” he said, a point with which all commissioners agreed.

Clark also suggested, and commissioners approved, turning over management of the county’s flood control lakes and dams to Director of 911 Addressing Wacy Beck. The task previously fell under the public works director position. Clark said public works employees who are currently assigned to maintenance of the lakes and dams will now be under the oversight of Beck.

“I’d like to increase Wacy’s salary with the new responsibilities to $66,000 per year,” Clark said. “We can reflect that now and in the new budget.”

Commissioners had previously considered separating the lake and dam maintenance from the public works department and had pegged Beck for the responsibility due to his previous work experience with the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Clark said they held off on that transition to allow Beck, who was hired in February 2018, time to adjust to his responsibilties in 911 addressing.

“I think if we’re going to do that, now’s the time to do that,” Clark told commissioners.

Burns spoke up and said Beck should go ahead and transition his part-time field man position in 911 addressing to a full-time post since his workload was about to increase. Commissioners had previously approved changing the position from part-time to full-time, but it was not to go into effect until Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

Stone was hired as public works director in January 2018 to replace Tom Goode, who was retiring. Jones was also considered for the post, and when he was passed over in favor of Stone. Commissioners offered Jones the 911 addressing job, plus oversight of the dams. Jones declined the position.

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