Commissioner challenges county executive’s decision

Posted By | May 29, 2012 12:00 am

County Commissioner Diana Haston, who represents District 1, hands White County Executive Herd Sullivan copies of applications she received from individuals who are interested in the position of director for White County Emergency Medical Services.

One of White County’s commissioners sternly directed some accusations toward the county executive about the manner in which he handled the appointment of a new director for the ambulance service.
Diana Haston, commissioner for District 1, came equipped with numerous handouts that were distributed with the remainder of commissioners that were present. Haston’s straightforward remarks were directed at White County Executive Herd Sullivan who had submitted the name of Rex Clouse as the new director of White County Emergency Medical Services during a previous county commission meeting. However, commissioners did not approve Sullivan’s recommendation.
As county executive, Sullivan has the authority to appoint department heads, but the recommendation must be approved by the county commission. To-date, Sullivan has not submitted another recommendation.
“We had asked Mr. Sullivan when somebody’s name was going to be brought back up again,” Haston said.
Haston also said Sullivan was asked if he had received any additional applications, and he had replied, “No.”
“I told you I had some applications, but not any better than what I had,” Sullivan said.
Haston said, “I took the liberty of asking anybody that was interested in putting applications in…”
She was interrupted by Sullivan who asked, “Where did you get [the idea] that we had to take applications?”
“I guess we don’t,” Haston said. “How else are you going to pick somebody? Mr. Sullivan, to my knowledge, you have told twice today on the phone that you were not accepting applications.”
Sullivan said he was not accepting applications, because he already had employees at the ambulance service who are qualified for the position of EMS director.
Haston again asked when Sullivan would bring another recommendation to the county commission for EMS director.
“When I find somebody that’s better qualified,” he said.
“Here are some applicants that are completely qualified,” Haston said, as she handed out documents to the commissioners.
“You mentioned the word ‘court’ – that’s probably your next step,” Sullivan said.
“That will be our next step,” Haston said. “If you don’t want to bring anybody else in, I don’t see any other way. I spoke with Ben Rodgers [consultant with County Technical Assistance Service], and he also doesn’t understand why you can’t bring somebody else’s name up.”
Haston said she told individuals who were interested in submitting applications for the position they could give her the applications, and she would then give them to Sullivan.
“Due to the fact that there has been talk that you will not accept anybody’s application…,” Haston said, as she was interrupted.
Sullivan said he had applications for Shane Steele, Billy Price and Mike Kerr.
“Did you state that [that] position had been filled?” Haston asked.
Sullivan said he told them the department had an interim director.
“There are qualified applicants that were also afraid to put their applications in due to the fact that they would be losing their jobs,” Haston said.
Sullivan replied, “That’s a lie.”
Sullivan explained the only statement he had made was about some of the EMS employees reportedly not filling out required paperwork in a timely or appropriate manner, which is necessary for reimbursement from Tenncare and Medicare. Sullivan said he told Clouse if these employees did not want to do their jobs, then Clouse “didn’t need them.”
“I don’t think that’s the issue,” Terry Alley, county commission chairman, said. “We need a name to vote on.”
Haston said Rogers reportedly informed her it was OK for her to accept these applications.
“I, personally, am really concerned that the individual that’s been voted down, which is being held as the very best in our county – number one, we’ve got leadership problems within the EMS, especially concerning timely reporting,” County Commissioner Al Klee said. “Last week we had a discussion with the NHC director concerning what appeared to me as an attempt to deny service or discrimination in rendering emergency service because of ability to pay.
“There’s a big cloud around this individual that you keep bringing to us and saying this is the only one I’ve got. We’re suggesting as a [legislative] body that you go out and look elsewhere.”
Terry Alley, county commission chairman, said he had spoken with Clouse about the matters that were discussed during the Steering Committee B meeting with the NHC Healthcare of Sparta director, Beth Stephens.
“After our conversation, I think that all of those things that were brought up in the Steering Committee were probably miscommunication,” Alley said. “And he [Clouse] said he has already addressed that and is working on that. I think the problem beforehand is that it’s not really about Rex.”
Alley said the issue is the county commission has not been presented with another name for EMS director.
“We’re needing another name to vote on,” Alley said.
Klee said, “I guess the direct question is, ‘Mr. Sullivan, will you bring us another name next month?”
“I will try to bring you another name when I assess all these applications,” Sullivan responded. “I do want to say one more thing. It’s not right to character assassinate somebody when they’re not doing anything wrong.”
In other business, commissioners:
•Approved the White County Grand Jury report from the May 2012 term of Criminal Court. The report said the Grand Jury had inspected some of the county and public offices and found them to be in good state of repair and reasonably well maintained. However, the report again noted the jail is in “overflow capacity.” The Grand Jury recommended that plans be underway for additional cell space.
•Approved a resolution to change the road name of Billy Goat Circle to Caney View Circle
•Approved a veterans’ committee consisting of the following individuals: Herman Hill, Roger Dale Mason, Eugene Lawson, Eric Luna and Jim Amerson
•Approved resolution to accept payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for Endura Products Tennessee LLC, at 130 Sunset Dr. This business is in the former location of Jeld Wen. The resolution states White County will accept the sum of $7,500 per year for five years, beginning Jan. 1, 2013, with the understanding the payment in lieu of taxes would be extended an additional five years if at the end of the fifth year Endura has 120 full-time employees.
•Approved resolution for a loan from the White County Industrial Loan Fund in the amount of $70,000 for Daniel Eller and Danny Seals, of Middle Tennessee Fabrication, in White County
•Approved resolution for Carmen Ratliff, of Jackson Kayak, to fill the unexpired term of the late Bob Breeding on White County Industrial Development Board
•Approved resolution to appoint Geeta McMillan to White County E-911 Board of Directors to fill the unexpired term of Jerry Cole Sr.
•Approved resolution authorizing submission of an application for a Litter and Trash Collection Grant from Tennessee Department of Transportation and authorizing the acceptance of the grant
•Approved bond for Director of Schools Sandra Crouch in the amount of $50,000, which is required for certain officials and employees by state law
White County Board of Commissioners meets at 7 p.m., the third Monday of each month, at the courthouse. The next meeting will be June 18, 2012.

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