Lawrence publicly interviews 24 for post
By Nancy Glasscock
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MOULTON — The Lawrence County Commission interviewed 24 people for the job of county administrator in public Friday, despite attempts by Commissioner Alma Whitlow and Chairman Bradley Cross to conduct the interviews behind closed doors.
A disagreement between Cross and Commissioner Mose Jones over the definition of a commission meeting led to a vote to conduct the interviews in public. Cross, who votes at commission meetings only to break a tie, said the commission could interview applicants privately by calling the meeting an information-gathering session.
Jones, however, said with the exception of an executive session, the public would have been entitled to attend the meeting regardless of what it was called.
Based on information from the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, the commission needed to adjourn the meeting before interviewing applicants in private, said Cecil Caine, the county's attorney. Jones refused to make a motion to adjourn.
"We are in a meeting, and I'm not going to make a motion to adjourn," he said. "I don't know why (other commissioners) have a problem with interviewing people in the meeting."
Whitlow was the only commissioner who voted against interviewing applicants in public. She said she feared some applicants could lose their current jobs if their names were published in a newspaper.
Cross said he opposed the commission's decision because interviewing applicants publicly would be detrimental to the hiring process.
"There are some things that a lot of applicants would tell you, but being exposed by the press, they're not going to let you have the full picture of their abilities," Cross said.
Cross left the meeting immediately following the vote, leaving Vice Chairman Harold LouAllen to take over as chairman for the remainder of the meeting. Cross wouldn't comment on why he left.
Cross said adjourning to gather for a private meeting in another room wouldn't have violated open meeting laws.
"It's not a meeting," he said. "All we're doing is collecting information so that we can come back at a public meeting and decide who we're going to consider for the administrator's job."
Before the vote to interview the applicants in public, the commission met in an executive session during which, Caine said, commissioners discussed the Open Meetings Act and possible legal ramifications.
The Open Meetings Act states that all meetings in which government bodies meet to deliberate must be open to the public. Execution sessions can be entered for a limited number of statutorily defined reasons. In addition, public officials who violate the act are responsible for paying attorney fees incurred in resulting lawsuits.
Who got interviewed in Lawrence
The following applicants for Lawrence County administrator were interviewed by the County Commission on Friday:
Patricia Hitt, Town Creek. Hitt is employed in transportation operations management at Pilgrims Pride Corp.
Peggy Lanier King, Hillsboro. King runs Lanier Tax Services with her mother.
Robbi Ligon, Moulton. Ligon was chief clerk at the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department from 2003-07.
Royce G. Melson, Moulton. Melson is semi-retired. He does contract work on computer programming.
Andrea Morgan, Huntsville. Morgan is an office manager at TelTron Telemetry Systems.
Jackie Peek, Moulton. Peek has been vice president of Citizens Bank in Moulton for more than nine years.
Robin Thompson, Moulton. Thompson was an administrative representative for Lockheed Martin in Courtland.
Veronica Sparks, Moulton. Sparks was a clerk for the city of Moulton for 13 years. She also worked in restitution recovery in the district attorney’s office.
Christine Garner, Town Creek. Garner is employed by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in Rogersville.
Steve Eason, Florence. Eason is a catastrophic claims insurance adjuster.
Peggy Dawson, Moulton. Dawson is an accountant with Lawrence County.
Korey Dickens, Georgia. Dickens is originally from Moulton and is employed by the Georgia Municipal Association.
Alicia Smith, Moulton. Smith is employed as a manager by Champion Community Credit Union.
Vickie McCullough, Moulton. McCullough is employed by Family Security Credit Union.
Vanessa Byars, Town Creek. Byars is employed as an accountant with Graves and Phillips Engineers in Decatur.
Wanda Ballinger, Town Creek. Ballinger has held several accounting positions at car dealerships.
Kimberly Hinsley, Moulton, self-employed.
Jonathan Fuller, Moulton, self-employed.
Jeannia Little, Hatton. Little works for International Diesel of Alabama.
Ronald Clark, Moulton. Clark owns Frame World in Decatur.
Jamie Vanderiver. Vanderiver is employed in deposit operations at Citizens Bank in Moulton.
Robert Chitwood, Moulton. Chitwood is employed by Lawrence County EMS.
Lindy Garrett. Garrett is employed as a dispatcher with the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department.
Gay Lee Quinn. Quinn is employed with J&J Auto Clinic and J&J Mini Storage in Moulton.
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