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LawCo commission votes to fire embattled administrator

By Jason Houston
The Moulton Advertiser

The Lawrence County Commission voted Tuesday night to terminate the employment of County Administrator Peggy King.

The vote was 3-2, with commissioners Bobby Burch, Prentis Davis and Joey Hargrove in favor and Commissioner Mose Jones and Commission Chairman Jon-Mark Nelson opposed.

Jones has been a vocal supporter of King in previous meetings.

The commission voted near the end of the meeting to add an item to the agenda dealing with King’s employment. King has worked without a contract, at the will of the commission, since a meeting in June when the commission terminated her contract pending a 90-day review of her job performance.

Hargrove then made the motion to terminate King and give her four weeks pay provided she cooperates during the transition. Burch seconded the motion.

Jones made the only comments regarding the motion, saying it was a bad move for the county.

“I don’t know the reason why the commission wants to terminate Ms. King,” Jones said. “If we terminate Ms. King, it’s going to be hard to get anyone in here to move the county in the right direction. She’s doing an excellent job considering what’s been going on. I definitely don’t support this motion.”

The 90-day job performance deadline passed last fall without commission action, but King and the commission have been at odds several times in the past few months. Most recently, an argument arose at the December meeting about King not following a directive to shorten or summarize meeting minutes.

King has also been reprimanded in the past for a delay in distributing Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to local fire departments. Also, the commission’s audits during the past several years have come back with multiple findings. In an audit released in June 2011, the state examiners of public accounts found 26 errors. Meeting minutes have been a consistent issue with the new commission since the 2010 election.

After several complaints about the minutes being late, the commission voted unanimously in February to require King to provide the minutes to the commission within five days of the completed meeting. King was hired as administrator in 2008 at a salary of $58,000 per year. She replaced Peggy Dawson.

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