Fort Oglethorpe Terminates City Manager, Police Chief And Public Works Director

Friday, March 22, 2013 - by Mike O'Neal

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. . Those opening lines from “A Tale of Two Cities” perhaps best described how lives and events were changed Friday by the actions of the Fort Oglethorpe City Council.

At 2 p.m. all was well — “it was the best of times” — when Clay Kissner, elected Tuesday to fill the remainder of the term of the late Eddie Stinnett on the city council, was administered his oath of office by Catoosa County Probate Court Judge Gene Lowery.

After congratulatory handshakes and posing for photographs with his wife and four-year-old daughter, Mr. Kissner at 3 p.m. took part in a special called council meeting.

“My first day was h---,” he said. “It was tough, nothing like I wanted my first meeting to be like.”

The meeting had a single agenda item - “executive session: personnel,” and, following that 15-minute closed-door session, the council returned and City Manager Ron Goulart resigned his position.

“Through no fault of my own, I am submitting my letter of resignation,” Mr. Goulart said when the public meeting reconvened.

The city’s manager for six years and its attorney for five years before that, Mr. Goulart said he did not want to surrender his position but felt to have stayed on would have only postponed the inevitable.

The death of Mr. Stinnett, coupled with the suspension of Councilman Charles Sharrock pending his appeal of his removal from office related to charges of sexual harassment, meant the five-member council was hampered in the execution of its duties.

“I can count the votes,” Mr. Goulart said. “In this position you can’t satisfy all the people all the time. Rather than prolong this, I felt it in the best interests of everyone to go ahead and leave.

The city manager serves at the council’s pleasure and Mr. Kissner’s joining the council meant that Mayor Lynn Long could cast a deciding vote should any vote to discharge Mr. Goulart be tied.

Councilman Earl Gray put forth a motion calling for discussion before the resignation was accepted, but that motion died due to lack of a second.

Mayor Long stated that an interim manager be named to oversee the city’s business and suggested hiring former council member Harold Silcox to serve in that capacity.

Mr. Gray’s was the only dissenting vote as councilmen Louis Hamm, Johnnie “Red” Smith and Mr. Kissner voted in favor of installing Mr. Silcox as manager before the meeting was adjourned.

“What a sad day for this city,” Mr. Gray said immediately afterwards. “A lot of strange things have happened today.”

That was at 3:55 p.m., and the sadness was not yet done.

Within a few minutes, Mr. Silcox, using the mayor’s office since Mr. Goulart will not vacate his office until Monday, spoke privately first with Police Chief David Eubanks, next with Public Works and Recreation Director Jeff Long.

The results of both conversations with both long-term employees/department head were the same: immediate termination.

Chief Eubanks, after turning in his keys and badge, said he was given no reason for dismissal.

Patrol officer Jeff Holcomb, who was unsuccessful in his bid to become sheriff last November, has been named acting chief of police.

Deposed after having served five years as the city’s top cop, Mr. Eubanks had no comment except, “I’m not happy about it and my wife isn’t going to be happy about it.”

Mr. Long had been a Fort Oglethorpe employee for 19 years and has represented District 1 on the Catoosa County Commission since 2011, a position that led to his firing Friday.

“The reason was because I voted with the county as a commissioner to adopt the de-annexation resolution,” Mr. Long said, while removing his personal belongings and files from his city-issued pickup truck.

Mr. Long was referring to a request by Northwest Georgia Bank that a 42-acre parcel of land be de-annexed from Fort Oglethorpe and back into the unincorporated portion of the county.

De-annexation — which the city council refused to address — has been approved by the state legislature. The request was a response to Fort Oglethorpe denying the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sunday, something which is allowed everywhere else within the county.

The city council will consider a request by Mayor Long that several referendums related to the Sunday sale of alcoholic beverages be placed on the November ballot.

Regarding the dismissal of two long-time city servants, Mr. Goulart said, “I’m really sorry for Jeff Long and David Eubanks. They are two of the best employees this city has ever had.”


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ANDREWS, WINDA FAYE 4902 GOLFVIEW DR CHATTANOOGA, 37411 55 Chattanooga FAILURE TO APPEAR BENN, MARCUS ANTAWAN 3216 6TH AVE CHATTANOOGA, 37407 29 Chattanooga SIMPLE ASSAULT CONTRABAND IN PENAL INSTITUTIONS BLAIS, CANE CHRISTIAN 2824 SYDNEY STREET JACKSONVILLE, 32206 21 Hamilton ... (click for more)

Former Meigs County Official Connie Allen Indicted On Theft Charge

An investigation by special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has resulted in the arrest of a former Meigs County interim finance director on theft charges. At the request of 9 th  District Attorney General Russell Johnson, TBI special agents began investigating Connie Allen on Nov. 24, 2014. TBI agents worked in conjunction with the Tennessee Comptroller ... (click for more)

Finley Stadium Needs To Grow Up - And Response

RE:  Finley Stadium Financial Picture Rosy; Beer And Alcohol Sales Approved; AstroTurf Almost Ready and City, County Pitching In $250,000 Each For New Finley Stadium AstroTurf I read a story here five days ago about a rosy future for Finley stadium. It lead me to believe that the stadium was making money and even improvements with donations.  Then we get a short ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Mom’s Parting Instructions

My mother, Helen Exum, went to be with the Lord in late August of last year and, in the way folks do, I was going through some of her files last week when I ran across an envelope with my name on it. Inside was a story and written in her hand were the words, “This is a wonderful story for you to tell!” Not being one to disobey my mother and not about to waylay the wishes of the ... (click for more)

Grissom Eases Past Central To Reach Pounder Classic Finals

After recording three straight blowout wins in the Pounder Classic, Grissom was challenged Saturday afternoon by host Central at Cobble Field at Gene Lively Stadium. The outcome, however, was the same. Grissom, out of Huntsville, Ala., got a two-run homer from Palmer Ford in a three-run first inning, freshman left-hander Wesley Widner continued his solid pitching and the ... (click for more)

Schupp, Carpenter Overall Winners In 65 Roses 5K

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – The younger generation took charge on Saturday morning in the 13 th annual 65 Roses 5K road race. A pair of 18-year-old college freshmen were the overall winners as Paul Schupp and Amy Carpenter claimed those titles with times of 16:34 and 19:18, respectively. The 3.1-mile race started and finished on the campus of Lee University.   It was a mostly-flat ... (click for more)