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In light of a recent fire at the county’s Recycling Center and a truck from the center being stolen twice, magistrates asked Monday morning for some sort of procedure to keep them in the know about the county’s assets and incidents.
The fire at the center was Sunday, June 24, and caused minimal damage. It occurred when an employee driving a forklift accidentally pushed an empty used-oil container into an electrical plug, creating a spark, Judge-Executive Bill Karrer said.
Reports that the brakes were not working properly on the forklift were accurate, Karrer said. However, he said that issue had nothing to do with the fire.
Because the electrical outlet was low to the ground, it was hidden by the container, Karrer said.
“At any rate, logic said that it need not be there,” he said.
Because of this and because the Recycling Center was awarded a grant to purchase a vertical long-stroke baler, the outlet needed to be raised and has been, Karrer said.
“In light of the recent accident at the recycling center ... we need a procedure for communication that tells us what’s going on,” Magistrate Mike Moody said.
Moody cited the incident at the Recycling Center, the stolen truck, at least one citation at the center from the Health Department and the dilapidated condition of the former EMS building as things about which magistrates should have been informed.
Karrer told magistrates that the county’s FleetOne account tracks the mileage put onto county vehicles and that the county recently hired a fleet mechanic in an effort to keep better records of the condition of county vehicles.
After the condition of the EMS building was brought to the public’s attention, Karrer said he requested that the Kentucky Association of Counties come in and do an inspection of all the county buildings and provide a risk analysis. That inspection has been done, but a report has not yet been provided to the the county. Karrer said he has also invited the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to do an inspection of county buildings and provide a report.
Moody suggested a quarterly report from department heads detailing the county’s assets and their condition.
Magistrate Hobert Judd recommended a one-call system where the judge could record a message and send it to all five magistrates with the touch of a button. Even if the magistrates couldn’t answer right away, the message would be kept on an answering machine or voice mail until it was heard, Judd said.
“I don’t know know if we have that capability,” Karrer said.
“Well, you can get it,” Judd said.
Sheriff Donald “Buddy” Stump provided clarification on the issue of stolen truck at the Recycling Center.
Stump said he requested no one be notified after the first incident. Recycling Center personnel noticed a change in mileage on the vehicle over the weekend.
“I requested that nobody be informed of that because it seems y’all can’t even have an executive session in Fiscal Court here, it’s out on the street because they tell you about it here at the podium the next time you come back,” Stump said. “I had an investigation going on, and if we let it out that we knew what was going on, it might not get stolen again. We suspected the keys might still be missing. We kept our mouths shut, it got stolen again the next week, and we caught the guy.”
Stump said the suspect was a juvenile, and that the truck was recovered as well as some stolen property from Anderson County and the case was solved.
“I didn’t try to hide the fact after the second one, but the week between the two, we were trying to catch the guy,” Stump said.
Karrer said he would review the county’s administrative code to see if a notification procedure needed to be added and would bring the issue back before the court.
Communications from citizens
After the court voted to approve the minutes from its previous meeting, Karrer addressed some changes to the Fiscal Court’s procedure for hearing communications from citizens.
Karrer explained that since he has been in office the court has had, and will continue to have, comments from citizens as far up on the meeting agenda as possible.
“If someone has something they need to address the court about they are able to do that very early on,” he said. “If they wish to stay they can, if they need to leave they can and they can get their comments in.
“The comments from the citizens, number one, the court does not have to have — it is not a law. We do that because we want to hear comments from citizens with something that the court would be interested in and can take action on.
“However, attacking elected officials and pointing out what you may think they’re doing wrong, we can do nothing about. We can’t discipline them, we can’t kick them out of office, we can’t make them change.”
Karrer said that, from Monday’s meeting forward, citizens should stick to matters that are on the agenda for that meeting.
He referenced several citizens who had shown up to speak to the court regarding a planning and zoning issue when that issue was on the meeting agenda.
“We had some action on planning and zoning, and folks here came forward and talked about their concerns with those things, and that’s very appropriate,” Karrer said.
The first and only citizen to speak at Monday’s meeting was Lawrence Trageser, who wanted to discuss the termination of a county employee, David Baize.
“Well, I suspect that on the agenda, the termination of David Baize is one of these issues,” Trageser said.
“You’re making an assumption that you do not know about, sir,” Karrer said, explaining that even though “termination letter” was listed as an agenda item, it doesn’t list the employee involved. “If you’re going to continue that line, I’m going to ask you to sit down.”
Trageser addressed the issue in a more general sense, then proceeded to ask the judge if he could discuss other items, such as the recycling center fire, that weren’t on the agenda.
“Sir, you are out of order,” Karrer said. “If you don’t have something to speak of to the court that’s on the agenda, you may sit down.”
After several similar questions about items not on the agenda, Trageser was again asked to sit down.
“Sir, you are out of order,” Karrer said. “Sit down, you are interrupting this court and its proceedings, or I’ll have you removed.”
Trageser sat down.
Under the comments from the judge-executive, Karrer did read a termination letter sent to Baize, an EMS employee.
Baize was terminated on the grounds that he presented a safety and liability to the county because his 24-hour shifts worked in Spencer County followed a 24-hour shift in Shelby County, meaning he could possibly be working 48 straight hours with no rest.
EMS Director Jeff Coulter said Baize was offered the chance to continue part-time, but did not choose to take it.
The letter said Baize’s termination was not a reflection of his job performance.
The termination was approved 5-0, with Moody abstaining from the vote.