What appeared to be a light agenda turned into a long meeting for the LaFollette City Council.
The city has several grant projects at this time and Council Member Ann Thompson began the workshop looking for updates.
Thompson questioned LaFollette City Administrator Jimmy Jeffries about the progress of the Downtown Revitalization Grant. The project started in 2016 and she hadn’t heard anything recently about it, Thompson said. A design had been submitted to TDOT and the department had countered with another design. Once the design is approved the project can move forward, Jeffries said
The next item to be discussed was the status of LaFollette Codes Enforcement Officer Daniel Smith’s certification. Thompson has brought up several times Smith’s lack of certification for his position and questioned his ability to continue in the position. At last month’s meeting, the council requested time to speak with the city attorney about how to proceed with the situation (referring to Smith’s lack of certification). Last night, Jeffries listed the certifications Smith has acquired since taking the position, but none make him a certified codes inspector.
Thompson told the council she has received calls from citizens concerned, because they had tried to contact animal control and Smith hadn’t responded. Smith had been on leave for the past two weeks, Jeffries said. This prompted Thompson to question why she hadn’t been informed Smith was on leave. Her next volley was aimed at Jeffries.
According to the charter, it was the city administrator’s job to inform council what was going on and Jeffries had failed to do this, Thompson alleged.
Councilmember Mark Hoskins attempted to redirect the meeting by asking if this discussion was on the agenda.
“We have outsiders who have come to speak with us tonight and we’re airing our dirty laundry,” Hoskins said.
“I’m tired of being singled out and not told what’s going on in the city,” Thompson said.
Jeffries took the opportunity to respond to the allegations from Thompson.
“I’ve sat here for three years and not responded to her allegations, I want to respond to those allegations now,” said Jeffries. “I will only speak to Thompson during city meetings. She has taken numerous pictures of me and posted those pictures on Facebook in what I feel was an attempt to humiliate me,” Jeffries said.
Jeffries then noted that he felt singled out by Thompson.
“I would love to fire you in a heartbeat Jimmy. I don’t think you do your job properly,” said Thompson. Thompson again alleged Jeffries never informed her of city related items.
The council will make the decision at next month’s meeting to either move Smith to another department or terminate his employment with the city.
Hoskins pointed out there appears to be confusion about jobs within the city. He suggested someone should come in and explain the jobs within the city.
Jeffries said they could have MTAS come in and do this for the council.
“We need to learn how to play together,” Hoskins concluded. LaFollette Mayor Mike Stanfield said the handbook for the city would explain the duties to Hoskins.
In other business:
-James Davenport spoke to council about his plans for a reunion of the LaFollette Colored High School. This would be a joint reunion for all classes. “Tentatively we’ve had about 28 people to respond,” Davenport said. He came to council seeking financial support; Hoskins personally offered $100 to the reunion. The city is unable to donate funds directly to the reunion, because it does not have a 501 c3 status but did offer direction to cause. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 01/29/2019-6AM)