It’s time for Decatur County to move on

Published 5:29 pm Friday, April 3, 2015

Now is the time for Board of Commissioners of Decatur County to totally reexamine how the county does business, now is the time to repair relationships, and now is the time for a new leader to manage the day-to-day operations of the county.

Decatur County Administrator Gary Breedlove, in an emailed statement to the county staff, announced his resignation from that position effective April 30. With Breedlove’s current employment agreement slated to expire on June 30, he will be paid his $7,000 monthly salary for both May and June.

Breedlove’s resignation was the right thing to do. It had become painfully obvious that the working relationship between the county commission and Breedlove was fractured beyond repair.

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After the commission voted 5-1 a few weeks ago to accept the mediated resolution to service delivery issues with the City of Bainbridge, Breedlove made no secret that he didn’t agree with the decision. Behind closed doors, disagreeing with a decision made by a group of people who were elected to make such decisions is totally fine. I am a firm believer in the old adage, “if everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”

However, continuing to voice that dissenting opinion, against the folks to whom you answer, in such a public way is typically not sustainable and does irreparable damage.

And, more than one commissioner has told me that they felt “set up” and felt that the most recent commission meeting was “high jacked” after Breedlove encouraged county employees to attend that meeting, particularly employees of Decatur County Correctional Institute, to express their displeasure with an examination of the prison’s finances.

Given Breedlove’s strong feelings about the outcome of the mediation and the newly agreed upon Service Delivery Strategy with the city, is there any doubt that the implementation of the new agreement would hit snags and be almost impossible?

This is the last thing this county needs right now. After a couple of years of bickering, disagreements, and bad feelings, the county and the city have now reached an agreement. The priority should be implementing that agreement and living up to the terms of that agreement.

One positive, in addition to just reaching the agreement, in this situation is that the county will now have the opportunity to really dig deep into how business is conducted in the county. Efficiencies, cost savings, and better practices are bound to be found during this process.

The search for a new administrator has already begun. My hope is that the commission will have a large, highly qualified pool of applicants from which to choose. And I hope the chosen applicant will appreciate Decatur County as full of opportunity, with a desire to make this county a great place to live, raise a family, and do business. And, good luck to the members of the commission on the search, this will most likely be the most important decision each will make during their respective terms.