Despite censure, lawsuit, calls for resignation, Jones still running in May 1 primary

The Anderson County Commission, which is pictured above on March 20, 2018, unanimously censured Anderson County Circuit Clerk William Jones on Feb. 20, and asked him to resign after sexual harassment allegations were reported. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

The Anderson County Commission, which is pictured above on March 20, 2018, unanimously censured Anderson County Circuit Court Clerk William Jones on Feb. 20, and asked him to resign after sexual harassment allegations were reported. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

  Note: This story was updated at 10:40 a.m. CLINTON—He’s been accused of inappropriate behavior that includes unwelcome sexual advances, unwanted touching, and lewd and vulgar text messages. He’s been unanimously censured and asked to resign by the Anderson County Commission. He’s been sued in federal court. And some residents have joined commissioners in asking him to resign, or at least not seek re-election. Despite those pleas, though, Anderson County Circuit Court Clerk William Jones, who has denied many allegations and called others false, is seeking re-election in the Anderson County Republican Party primary election on Tuesday, May 1. Jones has filed counterclaims in federal court and filed a defamation lawsuit in state court. Some of the sexual harassment allegations appear to have been forwarded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies, including the Tennessee Attorney General, Tennessee Department of Labor, and Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts, according to records released by Anderson County. It’s not clear which outside agencies, if any, might be investigating the complaints, or whether the local district attorney general might be investigating.
Willliam T. Jones

Willliam T. Jones

Commission censures Jones, asks him to resign The accusations against Jones, who is seeking his second four-year term, were publicly disclosed during a review of a sexual harassment complaint at an Anderson County Commission meeting on February 20. During that meeting, Kim Jeffers-Whitaker, Anderson County’s chief deputy director of human resources and risk management, said her department had received five reports of inappropriate workplace behavior by Jones. “The five reports create a harassing pattern,” Jeffers-Whitaker said. She said the reports are supported by two affidavits and four sworn statements that the county’s human resources department obtained from the victims, who include four past or present employees and one citizen. According to Jeffers-Whitaker, the alleged instances of unprofessional conduct include: [Read more…]

Denenberg appointed to vacant AC Commission seat; EMS vote deferred

Information from WYSH Radio

Meeting Thursday in a special-called session, the Anderson County Commission unanimously voted to appoint Catherine Denenberg of Oak Ridge to serve the remainder of an unexpired term on the Commission.

Denenberg was the only person to apply for the appointment, and no other nominations were made from the floor or by commissioners. The vote to appoint her to serve the remainder of Harry “Whitey” Hitchcock’s term representing Oak Ridge’s District 6 was unanimous. Denenberg has already qualified to run for that seat in the August general election. [Read more…]

Montessori School of Oak Ridge closing after 40 years

The Montessori School of Oak Ridge is pictured above.

The Montessori School of Oak Ridge is pictured above.

Note: This story was last updated at 9:45 a.m. Sept. 22.

After 40 years, the Montessori School of Oak Ridge is closing.

There will be a silent auction on Saturday, September 30, at the Montessori School from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., a press release said. School items and miscellaneous games will be in the auction. The school is located at 728 Emory Valley Road in Oak Ridge. There will be office equipment, furniture, and small appliances also.

Opened in 1977, the Montessori School of Oak Ridge is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation chartered by the State of Tennessee for operation as a parent-owned cooperative. It is certified by the Tennessee Department of Education for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, and it has been “dedicated to providing a high quality Montessori program to children ages 2 to 6 years from all racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds.” [Read more…]

County takes action on General Sessions Court, Senior Center

Anderson County could renovate the former Oak Ridge Senior Center, which was once housed in this part of a building owned by Anderson County on Emory Valley Road, and use the space for Anderson County General Sessions Court, Division II. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

Anderson County could renovate the former Oak Ridge Senior Center, which was once housed in this part of a building owned by Anderson County on Emory Valley Road, and use the space for Anderson County General Sessions Court, Division II. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

 

CLINTON—Anderson County officials are taking steps to move the General Sessions Court in Oak Ridge from a privately owned building to a county-owned building and to move the county’s Senior Center into a larger space in Clinton.

Both projects have been discussed at the most recent meetings of the Anderson County Commission in Clinton.

Last Monday, May 15, Anderson County Commission approved about $1.4 million in borrowing through capital outlay notes that can be used for capital projects, including the General Sessions Court and Senior Center. The funding will include $500,000 for renovation work for the Anderson County General Sessions Court, Division II, and $600,000 to purchase the new Senior Center building, Anderson County Commissioner Robert McKamey said. The money is being borrowed at a 2.35 percent interest rate for 12 years. The $1.4 million also includes $300,000 for capital projects, which could include roofs on a few buildings.

The county will repay the capital outlay notes from the general fund, McKamey said.

The bids on the renovation work for Anderson County General Sessions Court, Division II, in Oak Ridge, had come in higher than expected in April. The low bid of about $530,000 from Preen Construction of Knoxville was announced during County Commission’s April 17 meeting.

Officials had previously said the renovations could cost about $300,000, citing an estimate from Michael Brady Inc., a Knoxville architectural firm. [Read more…]

Anderson County Commission meets Monday (today)

Information from WYSH Radio

The Anderson County Commission will meet Monday, September 19, at 6:30 p.m. in Room 312 of the Courthouse in Clinton.

Among the items on the agenda will be the election of a chair, vice chair, and parliamentarian.

Commissioners could head into executive session during the meeting as Anderson County Law Director Jay Yeager’s report to the Commission indicated that a settlement offer has been made in the wrongful termination lawsuit filed by former Public Works Department employee Lisa Crumpley, who sued the county alleging that she had been fired in retaliation for cooperating with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on an investigation into her former boss David Crowley. Crowley was indicted last October on charges of illegally inspecting buildings without the proper certification, and he fired Crumpley the day the indictment was unsealed. He was ultimately acquitted in the spring by a jury. No details of that potential settlement have been made public, but it will require Commission approval. [Read more…]

County agrees to spend up to $100,000 to fix computer security breach

Anderson County Courthouse

The Anderson County Courthouse on Main Street in Clinton is pictured above. (File photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

 

CLINTON—A computer security breach in Anderson County could have affected about 1,800 full-time and part-time government employees, and the Anderson County Commission has agreed to spend up to $100,000 to fix it.

Officials said the breach was discovered in the “later part of July.” But they declined to say who discovered it and how. The breach is under investigation by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, with technical support from other unnamed law enforcement agencies.

Natalie Erb, the new finance director in Anderson County, offered potential solutions to commissioners during a Monday evening meeting. The options included a lower-cost option of reformatting the computer equipment, or magnetically “wiping” it, and possibly reusing the gear, or a more expensive option of replacing the machines, including two servers in the Accounting Department and 26 workstations.

The consensus among commissioners—especially since confidential employee information could have been jeopardized—was that it would be better to start over with new, more state-of-the-art equipment that would not have any potential security risks remaining inside, at least not from the security breach that is currently being investigated. Commissioners voted 16-0 to spend up to $100,000 to address the problem. That motion was made by Commissioner Chuck Fritts, who was one of those who raised concerns about how employees might have been affected. [Read more…]

Computer security breach reported at main courthouse server in Anderson County

A computer security breach has been reported at the main courthouse server in Anderson County, officials said this week.

It’s a system-wide breach, said Anderson County Law Director Jay Yeager.

“The extent, type, and amount of data compromised has not yet been fully determined,” Yeager said. “However, this may include your confidential personal identifying data including Social Security numbers, dates of birth, home addresses, health insurance information and claims, payroll information, bank accounts, routing numbers, Veterans Service Office benefit documents, and possible employee credit union account information.”

The notice was sent Monday to all Anderson County employees and retirees. Yeager also alerted elected officials, school officials and the school board, Veterans Service members, and county contractors.

“The Anderson County Commission is undertaking prompt efforts to protect this system and your confidential information from additional system intrusions,” Yeager said. “Law enforcement authorities are working diligently to determine the scope of the breach and identify possible perpetrators.” [Read more…]

Crowley’s legal bills to be considered

David Crowley

David Crowley

From WYSH Radio

The Anderson County Commission’s Operations Committee will consider Public Works Director David Crowley’s request that his legal bill be paid after he was acquitted of criminal charges last month. Crowley had been charged with illegally inspecting five buildings without the proper certification, but he was acquitted on those charges in April.

In fighting the charges, Crowley’s legal bill came to $59,258.62. In the past, the County Commission has approved the payment of legal fees for county employees charged with crimes connected to their positions when they are cleared out of the county law director’s budget. The request was considered earlier this month and approved by the county’s budget committee. [Read more…]

AC man allegedly assaulted at jail files $1 million federal lawsuit

U.S. District Court in Knoxville

The U.S. District Court in Knoxville is pictured above. (Photo by U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee)

An Anderson County man who was allegedly assaulted while an inmate at the county jail in October 2014 has filed a $1 million federal civil rights lawsuit against a former jailer and other parties, and a jury trial has been scheduled for June 20, 2017, in U.S. District Court in Knoxville.

Before the lawsuit was filed, the former jailer, Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Corporal Dustin McCoig, was indicted on a misdemeanor assault charge by the Anderson County Grand Jury. He was indicted in March 2015.

McCoig is named as a defendant in the federal lawsuit, which was filed October 21, 2015, along with three other former Sheriff’s Department employees: Homer Bullman, Jason Wills, and Amber Stocks. Also named as defendants are Anderson County Sheriff Paul White, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, and Anderson County.

There is a separate case pending in Anderson County Circuit and Criminal Court, where a jury trial on the assault charge against McCoig has been scheduled for April 13, 2016. [Read more…]

Tennessee Court of Appeals affirms dismissal of ouster suit filed against AC law director

Jay Yeager and Lynn Byrge

Anderson County Law Director Jay Yeager, left, the defendant in an ouster suit filed by a group of residents, is pictured with Lynn Byrge, one of the petitioners in the complaint, during an Anderson County Commission meeting in July 2014. (File photo)

 

Note: This story was last updated at 3:25 p.m.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals on Thursday affirmed the decision of a trial court to dismiss an ouster complaint filed against Anderson County Law Director Jay Yeager.

Twenty-two Anderson County residents tried to remove Yeager, who was appointed law director in September 2006, from his office under Tennessee’s ouster law. The complaint was originally filed in Anderson County Chancery Court in May 2014 and amended the next month.

The Anderson County Chancery Court issued an order granting Yeager’s motion to dismiss on September 22, 2014, but the case was appealed. On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the court, which heard oral arguments in April, upheld the trial court’s decision to grant the motion to dismiss, which was issued by Special Judge Don R. Ash.

“I deeply appreciate the County Commission and the Legal Services Advisory Committee for their continued support and confidence during these very difficult times for myself and my family,” Yeager said Thursday morning. [Read more…]

AC Commission meeting wrap-up

Information from WYSH Radio

The Anderson County Commission met for the first time since January on Monday night and voted unanimously to release the $20,000 in funding that had been held back from the Andersonville Volunteer Fire Department and place them back in the rotation (beginning next year) for county purchase of a new fire truck after the department abandoned its controversial and wildly unpopular subscription program and returned to all-volunteer status.

Commissioner Phil Warfield said that the department “went above and beyond what Commission asked of them” as far as making things right with county leaders and more importantly the citizens they serve.

Commissioners were also introduced to the new fire chief, Del Kennedy. [Read more…]