County appoints interim administrator
After much debate at last Thursday’s County Commission meeting, Jefferson commissioners have appointed Stephanie Grove as interim administrator.
The administrator position was recently vacated by Debbie Keyser, who tendered her resignation several weeks ago.
The commission is advertising the position; however, they needed an interim administrator to ensure that county business continues without interruption.
The choice for administrator was debated at the last commission meeting where several names were bantered about.
Commissioner Patsy Noland offered a motion to place former administrator Leslie Smith in the position. She was supported in that effort by Jane Tabb, but the two met opposition from the remaining commissioners.
Smith, who served as administrator for nearly 20 years, was terminated in 2009. Noland, who served on the commission at that time, was not in favor of Smith’s termination at that time. Neither was Commissioner Dale Manuel; however, Manuel did not support Smith’s return even on a temporary basis at this juncture.
“Leslie has the credentials,” Manuel shared. “I have no problem with how she did her job, but that’s yesterday and we need to move to tomorrow.”
Walt Pellish likewise opposed Smith, stating that it is bad practice to rehire someone who was terminated.
“I think her termination was terribly mishandled, but not unjustified,” Pellish said during the discussion.
Upon failure of the motion to appoint Smith, Pellish recommended county finance director Tim Stanton for the position; however the other commissioners weighed in that Stanton needs to focus on the upcoming budget.
After a brief executive session and lunch, the commission returned and appointed Grove, who currently serves as their civil attorney, as interim.
Grove said that she will continue to work on the legal cases for the commission while filling the administrator position.
“I am performing both jobs right now,” Grove said. “As long as the commission is okay with me continuing their legal work, I will do that.”
Grove said that interviews have been underway to select a permanent administrator; however, a specific date has not been set for a new person to fill the seat.
While Grove serves dual rolls specifically for the commission, her legal workload for boards and commissions will be handled by Assistant Prosecutor Steve Groh. Groh and Grove have worked together on the civil side of the county’s legal team for many years.