Kelley, Ranshaw spar over 911 hirings | News


Typically in governmental meetings, the participants can get through the reading of the minutes from the previous meeting before any sort of controversy ignites. Not so at Tuesday’s gathering of the Pulaski County Fiscal Court.

Steve Kelley, outgoing Pulaski County Judge-Executive, found himself at odds with Fourth District Magistrate Mark Ranshaw over the reading of the minutes from the June 28 fiscal court meeting.

At that meeting, the court approved Kelley’s request to name Beverly Haynes and Andrea Scales shift supervisors and assistant TAC (terminal agency coordinator, the latter a role required for every agency that accesses FBI Criminal Justice Information Services systems) at the Pulaski County 911 Center. The two roles tend to go hand-in-hand at the local 911 hub, as there isn’t a specific assistant TAC position held there.

The minutes, however, only reflected that the two were chosen to be assistant TAC, and not shift supervisors. After the discrepancy was pointed out at the beginning of this Tuesday’s meeting, Ranshaw stated that he’d fielded complaint calls from others that weren’t considered for the positions.

Kelley, on the other hand, observed to Ranshaw that he’ll be out of office at the end of the year, with Marshall Todd taking his place as judge-executive following the results of May’s Primary Election, and asked that he could do what he needs to in that time without such objections.

“I made a recommendation to the court and we went with it, and I would just ask that we finish up the six months,” said Kelley. “You’re hurting the public by not letting us have a director, first of all; you fought me on that. You said, ‘No, we’re not going to name a director, Marshall doesn’t want it.’ The next thing now, we’re making a move to make safety a priority for the county, and you’re saying, ‘No, we’re not going to do this because it may not be what the next administration (wants).’”

Ranshaw responded that he wanted to “open it up to all employees that are there.” Shot back Kelley, “How about I just manage the 911 center and then if Mr. Todd would like to change that, he’s welcome to do that. Right now, we’ve got to take care of our public and the safety issues.”

Ranshaw said that some employees had been at the center for numerous years — some as many as 18 or 19 — and were not asked about their interest. Kelley said that the jobs were “mentioned over there and nobody responded that they were interested so I went to the supervisor and said, ‘Who is the best for this position?’” He then took those recommendations and presented them to the court, said Kelley.

“I had six or seven phone calls and none of them said they were asked … and they were interested in that position,” said Ranshaw.

“Six or seven people wanted to be in that position? Which ones are they?” asked Kelley. Ranshaw responded by saying that “everybody needs to be reached out (to) and offered that opportunity to apply for that position.”

Kelley tried to clarify the numbers again, and Ranshaw said “six or seven people called” him about the situation. “Oh, but not employees?” responded Kelley, and Ranshaw said that they were.

“I would just like to keep our 911 running and running smoothly right now, and we need supervision to do that,” said Kelley.

Ranshaw asked that Kelley go back and offer the position to everyone again and address it again in two weeks.

First District Magistrate Jason Turpen made a motion to accept the jobs as presented in the minutes — as assistant TAC, without changing it to reflect the supervisor position. 

“So the minutes are wrong, but you’re saying just leave them as they are?” responded Kelley.

Showing confidence in the minutes, Turpen said, “I don’t have a problem with (those individuals) going to the assistant TAC position.”

Said Kelley, “I would say we should change the minutes to reflect what we did, and that was to name a shift supervisor and assistant TAC.”

However, Ranshaw seconded Turpen’s motion to approve the minutes as they were, and all the magistrates approved it. Kelley then asked for a motion to change the minutes to reflect “what we talked about in court” regarding the addition of the shift supervisor title, and when Ranshaw said that it wouldn’t change how the 911 center is currently being run, Kelley said, “Have you seen how it’s being run now? We’ve been having a lot of problems.”

“We need to hire in the right way and offer it to everybody,” said Ranshaw.

The minutes would end up being approved as they were originally presented. It’s unclear how this affects the decision made at the previous meeting, as Kelley told the Commonwealth Journal that the paperwork to approve the two employees in the shift supervisor role had already been done. Kelley also said that mistakes are being made at the 911 center because of a lack of supervision, after Aaron Ross stepped down as director in April.

In other Fiscal Court business:

• Second District Magistrate Mike Wilson made a motion to kill the in-progress ordinance regulating nuisance dog behavior. The motion passed 3-2, with Ranshaw and Turpen voting against it.

The ordinance had undergone a first reading earlier in June, but was not addressed at the last meeting.

Asked to explain his interest in doing away with the ordinance, Wilson said, “A lot of stuff wasn’t in there that needs to be put in there,” specifically mentioning subjects like hunting dogs and hunting clubs. “It all needs to be taken care of and get it all in there right.”

• Fleet Maintenance Supervisor Frank Hansford addressed the city’s need for dump trucks. The county is trying to purchase additional trucks, which are hard to obtain right now — Kelley told the Commonwealth Journal that the county needs “desperately” to replace some trucks, but can’t get them until next summer. The court previously voted to purchase two but would only be able to get one and would have to wait a year to get it. “So now that we’re looking at other avenues to try to find trucks.”

Hansford ultimately agreed to look at a vehicle auction in Alabama where the court noted a good deal might be found, as well as on government-centered websites where equipment can be bought and sold to see what’s available.

• The court approved Public Safety Director Stacy Halcomb’s request to accept bids for review by the fire commission for extractors and dryers for fire departments, and also accepted requests for projects at various departments around the county — a new roof for Haynes Knob, remodeling and water damage repair at White Lily, and dive gear for the Somerset-Pulaski County Rescue Squad. All were approved.

• The court approved an 8 percent increase in the grant they give to help the county’s “Rocket Docket” program.

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