BOC members tested for drugs; employees to face regular screenings
BY ZACH MITCHAM
Madison County commissioners agreed to accept the cup and head to the stall, intending to show that they are willing to be randomly tested for drugs, just like they expect of county employees.
“Maybe they can look at my shoulder while I’m there,” joked Chairman Wesley Nash of his visit to Regional First Care, which conducts drug tests for the county.
Commissioner Bruce Scogin asked the county attorney if the gathering of commissioners for urine analysis would constitute an illegal meeting, then audience member Danny Andrews jokingly warned Scogin not to tap his foot, drawing laughs from the audience.
But the commissioners weren’t laughing about the state of drug testing among Madison County employees.
County clerk Morris Fortson reported that only one random drug test has been performed in the past three years. He said Regional First Care dealt only with the county’s former personnel manager, who recently resigned.
“From what I understand they were waiting on the human resources director to provide them with a roster (of those to be tested),” said Fortson.
Commissioner Stanley Thomas said he was appalled, adding that failure to test employees regularly opens the door for a myriad of legal troubles.
“One in three years is totally, totally unacceptable,” said Thomas.
However, former county personnel director Connie Riley said that the report of only one person being tested in three years is untrue.
“The report that only one person was tested in the last three years is a complete fabrication, and the beginning of what I anticipate to be a long list of accusations that ‘someone’ wasn’t doing their job,” wrote Riley, in an email to The Journal. “… If the board would like to start pointing fingers at who’s not doing their jobs, I suggest they start looking within their current staff. Employees at the road department, sheriff’s department and EMS Service should be able to verify that they have been tested more recently than over three years ago.”
Riley resigned April 21, saying in her resignation letter that she has “witnessed my position, that of my co-workers and entire departments being demoralized and debilitated.”
Fortson said that Regional First Care confirmed Monday that there had only been one test.
The board recently agreed to test 10 percent of county employees randomly four times a year. And the group agreed Monday to be first up at the stall, with each planning a trip to Athens Tuesday morning for a screening.
Also Monday, the board put the wheels in motion on the recreation department expansion project, agreeing to have the county road department to dig a new irrigation pond at the county recreation department. The group received several bids for the project, but commissioner Wesley Jordan suggested that the county handle the matter in-house.
Meanwhile, the county accepted a bid from Simpson Trucking and Grading for $132,703 for grading and construction of the drive, parking lot and two soccer fields at the recreation department.
WATER TANK SITE
The board agreed to give the industrial authority the right to put a water tank on county property next to the EMS station on Hwy. 98, rather than at the county farm as originally planned.
MEETING ON MONDAY
The board agreed to hold a special meeting at 4 p.m. Monday to discuss funding for sales tax projects and a traffic study of the Hull area and Shoal Creek Road.
NO DISCUSSION OF JUNK CAR ORDINANCE
Nash announced before the meeting that there would be no discussion of a proposed junk car ordinance. The board recently asked its attorney to draft an ordinance that would give the county the authority to have out-of-use cars removed from private property.
HIRING AT THE ROAD DEPT.
In other business Monday, the BOC agreed to hire three employees at the road department. The board heard from Tony Mattox of the road department, who requested that the staff be allowed to fill six vacant positions. But the group agreed to fill three slots, then see how the road situation stands. The BOC has talked recently about having the road department perform more grading work, rather than contracting out for the service.
The board also approved the hiring of two part-time employees at the transfer station and some additional hours for an office worker in the code enforcement office while the department is short-staffed. The board approved two promotions in the tax assessors’ office, where two employees have completed appraiser I training. They agreed to cover $2,489 in legal fees for the assessors’ office for the defense of a 2007 appeal that went to Superior Court. The board rejected preliminary plans for Harrison Ridge Subdivision and accepted preliminary plans for Diamond Springs Subdivision. They approved a contract with All About Asphalt to pave a portion of Lem Edwards Road for $6,150. They received a sketch of road routing around Hwy. 106 from Chairman Nash (See Page 8A).