Wastewater treatment plant supervisor fired

Published 1:39 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2012

County Administrator Gary Breedlove fired Mike Miller, the county’s wastewater treatment plant supervisor, on Monday, July 16, after Miller reportedly lied to Breedlove about being medically cleared to work.

Breedlove said Miller had recently completed some surgery, and returned to work Monday, July 2. Breedlove said he asked Miller for a doctor’s form clearing him to work again, but Miller told Breedlove several times that he had left it on his desk.

Breedlove said the county received a fax on Friday, July 13, from Miller’s doctor, clearing Miller to start work again Monday, July 16. Breedlove verified the information with Miller’s doctor, and then terminated Miller’s employment the following Monday.

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“I determined he had directly lied to me, after a direct question,” Breedlove said.

Breedlove also stated that this was not an “isolated incident” with Miller.

“I have tried to get him to respond to new guidance, and to be more attentive to details,” said Breedlove, who took over as the interim county administrator on March 13. “It was painfully slow to get a response, if I even got one at all. He just didn’t respond to new leadership.”

Breedlove said that Donnie Wilkerson is currently serving as the plant supervisor. In addition, Eric Swain, who had been the industrial park supervisor, has been re-assigned to the new position of “industrial park manager.” Swain will oversee all county operations at the industrial park, including the wastewater treatment plant, the water and sewer systems, the collection systems, the lift systems and the natural gas systems.

Breedlove said the county is currently looking for a new employee to fill Miller’s position.

Miller had worked for the county for more than 20 years, and had “plenty of sick time” available,” Breedlove said.

“This was a potentially dangerous situation,” Breedlove said. “[Miller] was endangering his own safety, and potentially endangering his co-workers. There was also a potential liability risk to the county, if he had gotten hurt and wasn’t formally released to return to duty.”