County highway co-supervisor suspended

Saturday, June 29, 2013

In an emergency meeting Friday afternoon, the Putnam County Commissioners voted to suspend county highway co-supervisor Jim Smith.

Smith's suspension is indefinite in duration and is with pay. The commissioners are likely to revisit the issue at an upcoming regularly scheduled meeting.

The exact origin of the problems is unclear, but based on comments from the commissioners, it appears to spring from Smith's treatment of other county highway employees and the public.

Commissioner president Don Walton and County Attorney Jim Ensley advised they met with Smith on Thursday regarding some of these issues, and that Smith's response was generally positive.

However, the commissioners and Ensley were notified of a Friday morning incident in which other county employees said they felt threatened by Smith's words and actions.

Based on their concerns, the commissioners called the emergency public meeting, posting notice on the door of the Commissioners Courtroom and notifying the Banner Graphic.

After discussion of the matter, Commissioner Nancy Fogle made the motion to suspend Smith, a move seconded by David Berry. Walton's vote made the matter unanimous.

As terms of his suspension Smith is to not be on the grounds of the county highway garage and was ordered to turn in all county property in his possession, the commissioners ordered.

The commissioners next meet on Monday at 9 a.m. for their first of two regular meetings for July. However, it is unclear if the issue will be on the agenda.

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