Commissioners approve organizational chart over county judge’s objection

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Over the objection of Wood County Judge Lucy Hebron, Wood County Commissioners voted in solidarity to approve a county organizational chart.  It was 4-1 final vote with Judge Hebron dissenting. 

Precinct 2 Commissioner Jerry Gaskill had the chart put on the agenda. Gaskill explained his motivation. “This is pretty much an update. Over the years we have created new positions and this hasn’t been updated in a long time. I was on the court when we created the human resources department which used to be under the treasurer’s department, and we created the elections department which used to be under the county clerk,” Gaskill explained. “Over the years all that is shown on this chart kind of gotten confused. In the past, we would just ask Commissioner Gaskill could you take care of buildings and grounds. I did that for two years. Jerry Galloway and Commissioner Shipp (Roy) were over the IT. We just need an update as far as our courthouse security. We thought it would be under the district judge but found out it is under the sheriff.

“In saying all this I just wanted to clarify the organizational chart back the way it is supposed to be. Over the years, without seeing an organizational chart, you don’t know really know who is under who. To get back to the bottom line, this chart shows what’s under the commissioner’s court so any big or final decisions will be made by the whole court.”

Judge Hebron responded to Gaskill. “Before you make that motion, if I could just say something, I think it’s a great idea to have a chart; there are a lot of counties who do have that. The sad part is I haven’t had a lot of time to look at this. I know the other 20 elected officials probably have not had the benefit of looking at this. I don’t know. Did our county clerk get a chance to look at this, did the district clerk look at it, did the district judge look at it, did the sheriff look at it, and did legal look at it?”

“Legal has looked at it and approved it,” Gaskill responded.

Hebron reacted quickly. “I would like to talk about this more, probably in a workshop. In the meantime, I think it would be a prudent idea to circulate this among the different department heads. I don’t think we had enough input from the other elected officials. Are we also thinking does each department have its own workshop underneath them? I would request there be some discussion on this. I just saw this after Commissioner Gaskill put it on the agenda. I would think as a courtesy to your other elected officials, you would solicit their input on it. This has got some misspellings on it and I honestly would not vote to approve this.”

County Clerk Kelley Price gave her opinion. “It doesn’t take me long to look at it and see it is informing the public who these departments answer to. It doesn’t have anything to do with our job duties or what we do. As I am looking at it right now, this tells me that elections, the veteran’s office, indigent health, all of these departments answer to commissioner’s court. That’s always been a given,” Price observed. “Just as Commissioner Gaskill said, through time it has been given to ‘hey, can you take this on?’ But ultimately this is the way it’s always been.”

Gaskill then made the motion and Virgil Holland made the second. The commissioners voted 4-0 for approval.

Judge Hebron voted against approval. “I have one nay and I voice my opposition on the grounds I already stated that as a courtesy to other elected officials, I think they should at least comment on this. As far as I am concerned, I have not vetted this, I haven’t had a chance to study it and when you are obligating these officials to this hierarchy and structure I think it’s inappropriate and it’s unprofessional.” 

Gaskill further responded,” Actually you don’t have a vote. You only have a tie-breaker.”

“I respectfully disagree with you. That may be how it has been done in the past, but I’m a member of the commissioner’s court and I have a right to cast a vote,” Hebron stated. “Just because previous county judges have done so, doesn’t mean I’m going to abdicate my authority to cast a vote. I’ll let the record reflect it was 4 to 1.”

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