Commissioners questioned about Public Works Director hire

Today’s Bourbon County Commissioners’ meeting brought about controversy surrounding the hire of the new Public Works Director. At the start of the meeting, Public Works Director Jim Harris stated that he was “glad to be here.” “There is a lot of work to be done, but that’s what we’re here for,” Harris said. Harris made positive remarks about Public Works Supervisor Marty Pearson’s work in the county. “I’ve seen some good things that Marty has done that we can build on and move forward,” Harris said. Harris and Pearson left the meeting to get started on other Road and Bridge work.

Jarrod Handly later came to the meeting to question the commissioners’ choice of hire for the position, as well as the addition of the Director’s job to the structure of the Road and Bridge Department. Handly stated that his intent was not to launch a personal attack against Harris, but rather to bring forward questions he had heard from other citizens.

Handly asked how the salary and new truck for the Public Works Director had been fit into the 2013 budget. “Where did that money come from?” Handly asked. Commission Chairman Allen Warren replied that the $40,000 for the Director’s salary had been planned in the 2013 budget, and the remaining $4,000 to pay Harris’ salary of $44,000 would come from a reduction in the County Supervisor’s salary. “The pickup, we had budgeted for a 3 yard loader and we didn’t buy it,” Warren said, explaining that room had been left in the budget for the purchase of the truck.

Handly said that he spoke for the public in saying, “People are not happy with the spending.” Handly added that citizens are “definitely not happy” with the choice of hire for the position.

Commissioner Harold Coleman asked why the citizens in question had not attended the meeting to voice their concern. “Why haven’t they appeared here?” Coleman said, to which Handly replied that he didn’t know.

Handly made accusations against Harris based on information he said was given to him by two contractors and a former commissioner. “I have documentation that he has lied to the county commission in the past,” Handly said. Handly brought with him minutes from the June 1st County Commissioners’ meeting in which Harris had told the commissioners workers were all mowing, except one whose machine had broken down. Handly said a commissioner later discovered that four employees had been working on a bridge instead of mowing. Handly also said he had been told that Harris had received, “numerous kickbacks” from equipment companies. Handly added that he had been told Harris manipulated bids.

Commissioner Barbara Albright reported that she had heard positive feedback on the hire of Harris as Public Works Director. Albright said of the need for the Public Works Director’s position, “What I’ve seen, it is just a very large job.” Albright explained that the decision to bring back Harris as Director was made because of his previous experience. Albright said that the reason Harris left county employment reflected a commission decision to eliminate the Director position. Albright indicated that there had been no documentation to indicate Harris was dismissed for wrongdoing.

  • County Public Works Supervisor Marty Pearson reported that some areas had been further damaged by heavy rains. “Anderson County got hit pretty hard Saturday morning,” Pearson said.
  • Public Works Supervisor Jim Harris observed that the goal for quarry production in the past year was 180,000 tons, and that only 90,000 tons were generated. Commission Chairman Allen Warren suggested that on rainy days, one county worker could break up large rock at the quarry with a jackhammer. Warren said that the county had spent extra money to “run lines” for a jackhammer to be attached to the track hoe, and that it would be a good use of time in wet weather. “I’ll bet that thing has a windshield wiper,” Warren said, indicating that the track hoe could be operated during wet weather.
  • Larry Runkle came in to report that work to remove an old gas line had put one of his fences at risk. “It’s going to for sure wash out,” Runkle said. Commissioner Warren said that he would ask Harris to look at the situation this week.
  • Jim Stewart and Dan Meara conducted the county Tax Sale today at 10:00AM in the Bourbon County Courthouse. “We have had a number of redemptions of some of these properties,” Meara said. “We started out with 59 tracts.” Meara explained to those in attendance that there was no minimum bid or reserve at a tax sale, and that an $8 fee from the Register of Deeds would be collected at the end of the sale from those who had purchased properties. Meara also outlined the stipulation that relatives of a person with property being sold at the tax sale could not purchase the property formerly held by that relative. Tom Davis of the Bourbon County Sheriff’s Office reported that the properties sold for a total of $1,832.

2 thoughts on “Commissioners questioned about Public Works Director hire”

  1. In above statement it says Harris’s salary is $ 40.000 yet on 7/31/13 it said

    New County Road and Bridge Coordinator hired
    Posted on July 31, 2013 by annacarpenter

    Bourbon County Commissioners announced the candidate selected for the Bourbon County Road and Bridge Coordinator position at Monday’s meeting. Commission Chairman Allen Warren moved to hire Jim Harris at a yearly salary of $44,000. Commissioner Harold Coleman seconded the motion. Harris’ past work history includes employment at Berry Tractor, Bourbon County Public Works, and the City of Fort Scott

    ( …so many lies can’t keep them straight. )

  2. Actually, the commissioners did set aside $40,000 for the salary in the 2013 budget–that is not a lie. The remaining $4,000 to complete the $44,000 that totals Harris’ salary comes from a reduction in the County Supervisor’s salary, and that reduction is $4,000.

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