News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news
TUESDAY, MAY 15, 2007

Lawrence County rehires former engineer Rushing

By Kristen Bishop 340-2443

MOULTON — The Lawrence County Commission decided to go with experience and hired a former county engineer Monday to once again head the county road department.

The commission picked Mac Rushing over four other applicants.

The Lawrence County native retired with an illness in 2003 after 16 years with the county.

He tried to get his job back in 2005, but the commission voted 3-2 to hire Gordon O'Neal, a former Choctaw County engineer.

The only two current commission members who were active at that time are Bradley Cross and Mose Jones. In 2005, Cross voted to hire O'Neal, and Jones voted to rehire Rushing.

Four commissioners, including Jones, voted to rehire Rushing on Monday. Cross abstained from voting because "all of (the applicants) were qualified" and he "wanted to give them all a fair chance," he said.

Rushing will now replace O'Neal, who resigned April 23, two weeks after the commission put him on administrative leave pending an investigation.

Commission members never fully explained the accusations surrounding their decision to put O'Neal on leave, but Jones said they started the investigation following complaints from employees that O'Neal was viewing "inappropriate material" on his work computer.

The Lawrence County Sheriff's Department assisted in the investigation.

Jones said a search of O'Neal's hard drive turned up numerous inappropriate files. The engineer resigned before the commission was able to take action.

Upon O'Neal's resignation, Jones said the commission would need to hire a new engineer quickly to complete current projects and prevent losing state and federal grants.

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