2 seek top public works job

By Kristen Tribe | Published Saturday, January 20, 2018

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Wise County commissioners Tuesday decided to interview two candidates for the county public works director job.

Retiring Public Works Director Tom Goode recommended Ross Jones of Decatur for the job, and Keith Stone of Poolville has also expressed interest in the post. Both are current employees of the county public works department.

“We haven’t done a public works director in a couple of decades,” County Judge J.D. Clark said, referencing Goode’s almost 20-year run in the position during Tuesday’s meeting. “I didn’t know how you wanted to go about it, if it’s something you have feelings on already or if it’s something you want to discuss.”

Precinct 1 Commissioner Danny White first said he wanted to make a decision in the Tuesday meeting due to the short timeline to hire someone. Goode’s last day is Jan. 31.

“I know the Stone family and the Ross family, and it has no bearing on either family,” White said. He went on to say although both men are qualified for the job, “seniority should count for something,” hinting that he favored Stone, who has worked 22 years for the county. Jones has worked for the county 10 years.

“I think just like our foremen and lead men. We don’t take a new employee normally; we take one of the older guys, who’s been there for years and knows the job and stuff,” White said. “Not that either one of these people don’t know the job.”

The commissioner did acknowledge Stone has already worked 22 years, and he might not want to work many more years before retiring.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns said although he appreciated the longevity aspect, he didn’t agree with White.

“My promotions are due to merit not time served,” he said. “It’s a matter of having talent in the position. You have to weigh it all.”

Burns also said he would consider where a person lives, favoring someone who lives in Wise County. There’s not currently anything in the employee handbook indicating department heads must live in the county, but Burns said it’s better.

“They ride for the brand; they’re taxpayers,” he said. “There’s a big plus having someone living here who’s working here, but it’s not critical on every job.”

Goode said either man would do a good job, and he assumed commissioners would want to hire someone who planned to work for several years, “so you (won’t) have to do this again in three or four years.”

Goode also noted that he’s always tried, when possible, to hire people who live in the county, and he thought department heads were required to live in Wise.

“If your salary is paid with county taxpayer dollars, I think you should contribute back, but that’s just my thinking,” he said.

Goode noted that Ross is younger, GIS certified and understands the technology that will be required in that office in the years ahead.

“Keith is the same age I am, and we’re just not of the generation where technology is our strong point,” he said. “I don’t want any contention between either one of them.”

Goode said he was comfortable with commissioners making a decision that day or calling both men in for interviews.

“I think that might be the best situation,” Burns said. “I don’t think this needs to be taken off a resume. I think we should visit with both of them and see who would be the best fit.”

Commissioners agreed to meet 9 a.m. Monday to interview Jones and Stone. Individual interviews will be conducted in executive session. Judge Clark said the goal is to announce their choice that day.

Clark said a recommendation for a new fire marshal/emergency management coordinator will also be announced at that meeting. A hiring committee was formed to fill that post, and they have interviewed three candidates.

Commissioners Monday will also discuss steps to hire a new director of 911 addressing. Clark announced at this week’s meeting that current director Phyllis Shaw is retiring Jan. 26. She has worked 17 years for the county.

Monday’s meeting is open to the public. It’s in the third-floor conference room of the Wise County Courthouse in Decatur.

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