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Committee discusses county's hiring of convicted criminals

Several officials in charge of government departments in McDuffie County got together again last Wednesday to discuss various ways of reorganizing current governmental practices.

The discussion was led by Commissioner Bill Jopling, who serves as chairman of the reorganizational committee. The Rev. Fred Favors, who also is a county commissioner and sits on the committee, was absent. Commission Vice-Chairman Sammie Wilson, Sr., however, was there and participated in discussions with department heads.

One of the topics discussed regarded the hiring of county employees who have been convicted of felony crimes.

McDuffie County only conducts criminal background checks on those applying for the positions of deputy sheriff and firefighter -- not other positions.

Don Norton, who serves as county manager pointed out that persons who have committed violent crimes in the past are never considered for employment with the county. Others are considered for employment.

"People made bad mistakes sometimes," Mr. Jopling said.

McDuffie County Fire Chief Bruce Tanner agreed, saying, "I think we ought to leave it on a case-by-case basis."

County Chief Tax Appraiser Linda Thurmond agreed.

"I believe people deserve a second chance," Mrs. Thurmond said.

Another topic discussed included the county manager ordinance.

"We just need to define my role," Mr. Norton said. "In terms of department heads, they get hired by me and they get terminated by me."

Still, another topic included sick leave bank for county employees.

At least two employees "have used a lot of sick leave," Mr. Norton pointed out.

He suggested employees donate any unused annual leave time to the sick leave time bank.

Those attending the meeting also talked about grievance hearings. A formal discussion of how an appeals board will be formed will be discussed at the next reorganizational meeting.

Department heads agreed that a strong definition is needed between grievances and appeals.

"This thing needs to be simplified," Mr. Norton said.

Fred Guerrant, county planning and zoning director, agreed.

"We've got a long way to before we boil it down," Mr. Guerrant said.

Mr. Jopling added, "I think we need to simpler version."

An on-call pay policy also was discussed with Ruthie Thomas, the county's human resource director, explaining the City of Thomson policy.

She noted that the city's policy regarding on-call pay is not consistent.

"We need a policy that is consistent," Mrs. Thomas said.

Web posted on Thursday, March 18, 2010

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