County commission appoints attorney at first meeting of 2015

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Decatur County Board of Commissioners opened the first meeting of 2015 Tuesday by entering into a 35-minute executive session to discuss personnel while a large audience waited.

In the session, the board discussed the hiring of Bruce Kirbo, Jr., to the county attorney position, replacing current attorney Brown Moseley on Feb. 1. The board unanimously voted for Kirbo’s appointment after emerging from the executive session.

“I am looking forward to assisting the commission any way that I can and trying effectively and officially to run the business,” Kirbo said.

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Hired as an independent contractor, Kirbo said he would attend meetings only when asked to by the board—in contrast to Moseley, who sat with the board at meetings. According to OCGA § 50-14-3 (b)(2), using the executive session to discuss the hiring of Kirbo is in direct violation of the Georgia Open Meetings Act.

The statute reads that only “meetings when discussing or deliberating upon the appointment, employment, compensation, hiring, disciplinary action or dismissal, or periodic evaluation or rating of a public officer or employee or interviewing applicants for the position of the executive head of an agency,” are permitted.

Kirbo working as an independent contractor does not classify him as a public officer nor an employee, and his hiring does not fall under the category of personnel for discussion in a closed session.

The board also unanimously approved to hire contractor R.A.W. Construction to build a natural gas line at the Decatur County Industrial Park.

The county will pay roughly $765,000 for a 6-inch pipeline that will travel from the west end of the industrial park to the east end.

Decatur County Adminstrator Gary Breedlove said the county has budgeted $500,000 for the project and will use revenue from the upcoming solar farm project to also help pay the cost.

“This is, in my opinion, one of the top community-wide projects, that is ongoing and on the verge of getting ready to be awarded and done,” Breedlove said. “A lot of people are pushing to get natural gas because it’s cheaper, and this line will allow us to satisfy some current and prospective customers.”

Breedlove also said the Industrial Park is currently seeking a new manager in the wake of an incident between two employees on Christmas Eve 2014. The former manager, Eric Swain, and wastewater treatment worker David Knight were terminated after an altercation and eventual arrest.

“We have three people working there and an overseer who has a Class 1 license,” Breedlove said. “He is there routinely to check our procedures on water and wastewater.”

As for natural gas, Breedlove said the county has the capability personnel-wise to take care of any onsite procedures to make sure there are no leaks and check meters. In the meantime, Breedlove has asked for help from assistant public works director Andy Oliver to be the temporary industrial park manager.