County needs attorney, engineer

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Covington County Commission finds itself in need of professional services, after attorney Stacy Brooks was appointed probate judge and engineer Darren Capps announced his retirement, effective May 1.

Commission Chairman Bill Godwin told commissioners that after contacting each of them to let them know there would be a need for new legal representation at this week’s meetings, Stephanie Cotton agreed to do the work in the short-term.

While no clear-cut process for selecting an attorney was defined, commissioners said they would accept resumes of those interested in the job, then determine who to hire.

But a discussion about hiring an engineer grew heated.

“It’s my understanding that three of y ‘all already made a decision on who (the engineer) would be,” Godwin said. “A contract was bright in for consideration for him for that position.”

Godwin was referring to current assistant county engineer Lynn Ralls, who has worked as the assistant since 2000.

Godwin’s comment drew immediate ire from commissioners Carl Turman and Harold Elmore, both of whom are ending their terms on the commission this fall. Neither sought reelection this year.

“I just seen the contract,” Turman said. “I just read it.”

Elmore added, “I’m the one that’s done decided. I don’t think we need nobody else considered. If he’s not able to move up, he should of left a long time ago.”

Godwin suggested that since hiring for administrative positions in the county is usually done internally, and there is only one qualified person who can apply, that Ralls be hired as interim county engineer while the county takes applications.

Godwin said the current commissioners dealt with the county engineer and county administrator being given contracts to secure their jobs before the last administration left office.

“I think it’s important that the incoming administration have input into it,” Godwin said. “We dealt with contracts that precluded this administration from making any changes. I want to show the incoming administration more courtesy.”

But Turman loudly disagreed.

“We’ve got a situation here that’s got to be done for the betterment of the county,” Turman said. “I was elected to sit here and take care of that kind of business.”

Ralls, who attended the meeting, said, “I want to serve the county. If that’s not the commission’s wish – either this commission’s or the next – I can leave when he leaves. I could pack up. I could leave tomorrow.

“I do want the position,” Ralls said. “It’s (the contract’s) a proposal I made; there’s a reason for that. I’d be honored to take the position.”

Godwin asked if Ralls would accept the job with a probationary period, or as an interim engineer, or if his employment was contingent on getting the proposed contract approved.

Ralls said he would have to give thought to that, but that he likely would.