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Flood issues brought to County Commission meeting

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Three neighborhoods have been built around Lynch’s subdivision where he has lived for more than 10 years. Lynch pointed out the Fox Creek and Burwood Oaks subdivisions cause considerable flooding in the neighborhood.

“Our neighborhood was never designed to take on this amount of water,” Lynch said.

When there is an average to heavy rainfall, Lynch said the water from the other subdivisions runs into theirs and causes water to fill the streets and overflow from manholes.

“We want the responsible parties to correct the problem, but we don’t know who that is,” Lynch said, also noting that three homes have been abandoned in the neighborhood.

Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said the Urban Type Public Facilities Board is “working with them” to try and alleviate the problem. They have talked about putting ditches along both sides of a few roads in the neighborhood to collect water runoff.

A buyout of the neighborhood is also a possibility, with FEMA having to pay for 80 percent of the cost and the county paying 20 percent. Hutto said they are considering all options and noted the buyout has to be approved by the county commission if they chose to go that route.

Lebanon City Council has been dealing with issues such as this for many months and has debated allowing development when it could adversely affect nearby homeowners.

Members of the county commission expressed concern that if they voted to allow Lynch to speak, would they have more and more people coming before them. County Attorney Mike Jennings said it isn’t something they do very often, if at all.

“If two-thirds of you approve to do this tonight, you may have more of this,” Hutto pointed out.

When the vote came, 21 squires voted to have Lynch speak with District 12 Commissioner Billy Rowland and District 21 Commissioner Eugene Murray voting no and District 20 Commissioner Annette Stafford and District 15 Commissioner Mike Justice abstaining.

Also during the meeting, after a lengthy discussion, commissioners finally approved the creation of a one-person Human Resources Department to be run by a Human Resources Director.

The commission voted 20-5 in favor of creating the HR department after several squires expressed concerns about qualifications, how the HR director is to be hired and to whom the director will answer.

District 2 Commissioner Stephanie McDonald said she had previously spoken by phone with another county HR director and said that director reported to the county commission, however Wilson’s will report directly to Hutto.

“I know the qualifications are there, but why would we not bring them back to us?” McDonald asked, referring to Hutto having to bring a recommendation before the commission to approve hiring someone for the HR director’s position.

District 23 Commissioner Bernie Ash, a member of the HR Ad Hoc Committee, said the hiring process as well as the function of the HR department would be “more streamline and more feasible to have them report to the mayor.”

Also, other commissioners were concerned with the process of hiring an HR director, which was laid out in the resolution. The resolution said the director will be appointed by the mayor after the interview process has been completed. Many felt members of the ad hoc panel should be present in the hiring process.

“My biggest concern that was made was not having the committee oversee the hiring,” said District 1 Commissioner Becky Siever.

Hutto indicated he would be happy to have members of the committee assist him with the hiring process. He said he probably would have asked two or three members of the committee to help in the process anyway.

“We didn’t want politics to be a part of it,” Hutto said of the hiring process and having members of the panel mentioned in the resolution.

Ash also felt politics would be brought into play if the full county commission had to hire the director. District 15 Commissioner Mike Justice said the HR director could not be influenced by political pressure.

“They can’t hire or fire so the political pressure has been removed,” Justice pointed out.

Another concern from McDonald was rooted in how much liability will be saved on the county’s insurance policy by hiring an HR director. Ad Hoc Committee Chairman and District 13 Commissioner Clint Thomas said they didn’t have an exact number.

District 6 Commissioner Kenny Reich, chairman of the Insurance Committee, said the county’s liability policy is up for renewal in July and they will ask for bids that include the HR director and that do not, to see how much money will be saved.

“This has been talked about for a very long time, it is past time for us to get this in play,” said District 22 Commissioner Wendell Marlowe.

A replacement resolution was handed out during the discussion by Jennings that included the specific qualifications for the HR director position.

Thomas said the ad hoc committee voted to include those qualifications, but they were removed by Hutto so as to have a large selection of job candidates. Thomas was displeased with having the qualifications removed after the panel voted to include them.

The qualifications for the HR director include a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management, Employment Law, Business Management or a related field and five years experience in HR management.

Ash felt having the qualifications included in the resolution would hurt the number of possible candidates for the job by having to meet every qualification by law if the replacement resolution took the place of the original.

District 11 Commissioner Jim Bradshaw made a motion to have the alternate resolution with the qualifications included, replace the original. However, that motion failed on a vote of 8-17.

“We need some guidelines at the front end and stick to them,” Bradshaw noted.

“I wanted to leave the field open in case we found somebody,” Hutto explained in regards to leaving the qualifications out of the resolution.

Thomas expressed dissatisfaction to having the qualifications removed, and Hutto said he was going to “stick to his guns” on that issue and wanted them to be left out of the resolution.

Another motion was made to amend the original resolution by District 19 Commissioner William Glover, who asked that the resolution specifically state the Ad Hoc Committee would have members present in the hiring process. Also, he asked that the person chosen for the job be brought before the commission for approval.

That motion also failed by a vote of 10-15, leaving the commission with the original resolution without the qualifications or any amendments. The commission voted 20-5 to accept the resolution with McDonald, Thomas, District 10 Commissioner Nathan Clariday, District 4 Commissioner Chad Barnard and Rowland voting no.

“This does not need to split our commission,” Hutto said. “Whatever we decide here tonight we will move forward together. We have made a step in the right direction.”

District 14 Commissioner Jeff Joines was also present at Monday night’s meeting after serving on active duty in the U.S. Military. He was recognized by Hutto and received a standing ovation from his fellow squires and those in attendance.

Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at phall@wilsonpost.com.

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