The Woodbury Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Tuesday night to affirm the recent termination of a town employee.
The vote to uphold the suspension without pay and termination of Jeremy Cope, who worked at the Water Treatment Plant, was 6-1 in favor.
Mayor Harold Patrick, Vice Mayor Charlie Harrell, and aldermen Faye Knox, Lois Larimer, Clayton Cason and Joanne Davis voted in the affirmative. Aldermen Dottie Duggin voted against the action.
Although Cope had requested the Appeal Hearing, he did not attend the meeting.
Cope was fired by Public Works Director Alan Paschal on Aug. 18.
Cope is the son of former mayor and current Cannon County Ambulance Service Director Ricky Cope. The former mayor hired his son to work for the town as an office clerk in Jan. 2007. He transferred to the Water Treatment Plant in Dec. 2008.
According to the Separation Notice provided to Jeremy Cope, he was terminated for “Multiple violations of the Town of Woodbury’s Employee Handbook, Conduct and Penalities, Sections 1, 3, 4 and 19. Employee has failed to respond positively to warning notices.”
Town government bylaws provide employees who have been terminated by their supervisor an appeals process. The first is to a Hearing Board comprised of the public works director, the city recorder and the mayor. The second is to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.
The Hearing Board denied Jeremy Cope’s appeal.
Although unrelated to the basis of his termination, Cope is currently facing criminal charges. He was charged with simple possession of marijuana on Aug. 9 by Woodbury Assistant Police Chief Kevin Mooneyham following a traffic stop on Old Manchester Road.
After he was stopped, Cope was asked if he possessed anything illegal in his car. At first he stated no, but after being advised by APC Mooneyham that if he was in possession of a small amount of narcotics or anything else illegal and was honest he would be given a release citation, Cope admitted to having a marijuana blunt (cigar) in his car, which he voluntarily gave to officers.
Cope is scheduled to appear in Cannon County General Sessions Court on Sept. 20.
In addition to his longtime association with former mayor Cope, further complicating the situation for current mayor Patrick is the fact that his son-in-law, Grant Holt, has applied for the vacant position at the Water Department. Holt currently works for the town as a utility service worker. Town bylaws give current employees priority consideration in filling vacancies.
Mayor Patrick said the decision on who to hire to fill the vacancy will be Paschal’s and that he will not be involved in the process.
Holt was hired prior to Patrick becoming mayor, in June 2008, by former mayor Cope.
In other matters Tuesday the Board
Approved the course and police roadblocks request of Aletha Thomas for the annual Cannon Blast 5K Run on September 17, 2011
• Approved roadblock permit requests by the Cannon County High School Baseball team for September 16, 2011 and September 24, 2011.
• Approved Korey Gilley Aycock's request for a roadblock permit for Juvenile Diabetes on Oct. 1.
• Approved Cannon County High School Future Business Leaders of America request for roadblock permits on Sept. 30 and Oct. 28.
• Mayor Patrick announced he has re-appointed Joe Hawkins to the Woodbury Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals to serve a five year term.
• Mayor Patrick announced that a local company, Cobb Home Innovations, is in negotiations with the town, county and state to locate in a local building for the purpose of manufacturing lighted decor tiles. A workforce of 20 is anticipated initially.
• City Attorney Dale Peterson told the Board he is in the process of modifying the town's employee handbook. He said a drug and alcohol testing policy would be included. Peterson gave the aldermen a copy for their review.