30 November 2017

[TPC] - Newton Co. Recreation Department: What's Going On?

[State of GA]
[Newton Co.]

(Covington * 11/30/17) - Greetings, readers, and hope all is well out there.

The Newton Co. Rec Department has long been a subject of discussion and conjecture by many over the years.

Last year's forensic audit found some concerning issues with this organization. But (and I'm still not 100% clear on this, and I'm not sure if anyone else is) those issues were either okay per the regulations & procedures of the organization, or since they were not expressly prohibited, then nothing could really be done.

Regardless, it is our understanding that a concerted effort had been made by the Board of Directors of the Rec Commission to try to improve things within that department.

This much we know:

It is a matter of public record that Anthony Avery, Director of Newton Co. Recreation, was terminated by the Commission Board at their meeting Monday night.

But then there began to be mentions that this was not the case, and that Avery was actually on paid administrative leave and that this was now in the hands of the Human Resources department of Newton Co., the county attorney, and the Newton BOC.

Multiple calls to Newton Co. HR have not been returned. "No Comment" from Newton Co. Recreation. So...who knows?

The Newton BOC has a special called meeting today at 4:30 at the Historic Courthouse. They will most likely immediately go into executive session to talk about this. Question. What involvement would the BOC have with any of this? I don't get that. Is this not under the purview of the Board of the Recreation Commission? Speaking of them, they're meeting at 6PM.

A concern, as we understand it, seems to center around the fact that Avery is considered a civil servant as opposed to an at-will employee. That's a key distinction and there are different rules and procedures involved & questions about whether or not the termination was done properly in accordance with the aforementioned rules.

So apparently there are concerns of potential legal issues.

Days of our Lives, Newton edition, once again.

It sounds like this could become an issue, and that maybe the only winner in all of this would be the billable hours for our current million dollar county attorney (not to be confused with our former million dollar county attorney), and perhaps a possible settlement package for the former, suspended (?) director.

But perhaps a silver lining to all of this could be that finally there will be a consensus to move all county employees to an at-will basis. That certainly needs to be done in this writer's estimation.

One last thing. Regardless of what happens, this should be the responsibility, financially or otherwise, of the Recreation Department. They do, after all, have a budget approaching $2 million.

We'll keep an eye on it.