At the March 4 county commission meeting, two county road department employees each received a raise and a promotion after some debate.

At the request of Road Department Director Howard Nabors, Lamar Hardy and Thomas Sadler were promoted to the positions of working foreman.

Commissioner Noah Lockley moved to grant the promotions, and was seconded by Commissioner Smokey Parrish. The motion passed 4-1, with Commissioner Pinki Jackel opposed.

When Nabors made his request, Jackel asked if there was only one opening. Nabors said there was one opening for the position of assistant superintendent.

“What do you think you need to do the job?” Commissioner Cheryl Sanders asked Nabors. “That’s the main thing.”

Nabors said that instead of an assistant superintendent, Hardy could help handle prison work crews and fill in when the regular secretary was out. He said Sadler was experienced with roadwork and culverts.

“Lamar would be over the inmates and making sure the job is done,” said Nabors.

 “Can Tommy (Sadler) supervise inmates?” Jackel asked,

Nabors said Sadler had not reinstated his inmate certification.

According to a May 2013 memo issued by former Road Director Hubert Chipman, Sadler was disciplined for wasting time that he should have been performing county work, and for using county equipment without authorization while he was assigned to be supervising an inmate work crew.

Several witnesses said they saw Sadler using a county truck to dump dirt on his own property in the Whispering Pines development in Eastpoint. At least one witness said there were inmates present at the time of the incident.

In his responding statement, Sadler said he had used a county truck to transport bed railings to his property and “left the inmates standing by the road” when he did so.

“I never had them on my personal property,” wrote Sadler.

Apparently referring to the dumping incident, Nabors, when requesting the promotions, told commissioners “all that mess took place before I took over.”

After commissioners agreed to the promotions, Nabors requested a $1,500 raise for each man.

Commissioner William Massey suggested the board wait until county labor attorney Lucy Turner of the Carson and Adkins law firm, was to make her presentation on job classification and pay scale at the March 18 meeting. Turner has been creating a plan to formally classify county employees and set standardized wage increases based on seniority and performance.

Nabors said money for the raises was already in his budget. Lockley moved to approve the salary increase. Parrish seconded.

 “I understand that when people move from classification to classification, there is a difference in money but I agree with Mr. Massey about Lucy Taylor,” said Jackel. “ I don’t understand why we would do reclassification and an increase today when we haven’t looked at those grids; when we’ve got other people that we’ve got on hold that.

“I don’t know what (Sadler and Hardy) make and I don’t know how they fit into that grid. This is kind of counterproductive for what we’ve been trying to do with Lucy Turner. One of these foremen can supervise prisoners and one cannot, so there’s some differences there. I don’t see how we can do this based on what we’ve been doing at prior meetings,” she said.

Sanders said both men had worked in the road department for roughly the same period. Nabors said each had more than 25-years of job experience.

The motion to increase the salaries passed 3-2, with Jackel and Massey opposed.

Sanders asked Director of Administrative Services Alan Pierce to add Sadler and Hardy to a list of names Turner is looking at so she could bring correct figures for their salaries to the next county meeting.