County Board fires Johnny Williams

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Arthur Lawson will be interim county administrator.

By Alice Du Pont

  County Administrator Johnny Williams is out. By a 3-2 vote Williams was terminated after two years. Commissioners Brenda Holt, Eugene Lamb and Sherrie Taylor voted not to extend Williams' contact and give him six months severance pay, his contract also calls for a 30-day written notice which will be negotiated between the attorney and the Human Resources Director. Arthur Lawson, human resources director, will be interim county administrator.
    Commissioners last month evaluated Williams' performance and the results of the complied evaluation was presented to the BoCC by Lawson during the regular meeting April 5.
    Before the vote was taken, resident Ed Allen said, that one commissioner has been on a "witch hunt" for Williams.
    "She called this man a racist. She didn't say a word about the 19 white people that were terminated as well as the 25 blacks. She even brought Bill Proctor over here to tell us that we are racists. Night after night she has called for his termination," Allen said.
    "I have put in motions to terminate him and I will continue to do so if it doesn't work tonight.This is not a good contract and I have opposed it from the beginning. I think that he should be terminated," said Commissioner Brenda Holt.
    Commissioner Eugene Lamb, who went to Alabama to speak with Williams before he, along with Commissioners Doug Croley and Gene Morgan voted to hire him,said he had received many calls from citizens throughout the county.
    "What I am doing is for the betterment of this county. This county needs to make a change. I did not give him a good evaluation," Lamb said.
    Lawson said Williams' cumulative score for the 2010-2011 evaluation was 2.63 of a possible 5 points.
    Commissioner Gene Morgan said that he felt Williams could use improvement in certain areas but that he had been hired and brought into a tough situation.
    "There were things out of his control. He brought forth a plan for doing something about essential services. We are short-sighted to think whoever is in that position will not have problems. I don't think he has done anything improperly. There have been some frivolous lawsuits and I agree with Commissioner Taylor, that we should fight them. I think we should keep our current administrator and move forward," Morgan said.
    Siding with Morgan's assessment was Croley.
    "An evaluation is not meant to be a punishment. I've read over the other commissioners' evaluation and none of them opposing this administrator have any suggestions. If you want to terminate him, terminate him but don't hide behind this evaluation and flimsy excuses. You have the three votes, go ahead and terminate him," Croley said.
    He told commissioners that he made the motion in January 2009 to re-organize county government and that all commissioners voted for it.
    "This man came in April. He had his Judas and those who want to wash their hands of it. I will stand by him," Croley said.
    Chairman Taylor said that she believes in due process and while others have accused Williams of so many things, she bases her opinions on facts. She said that she too has received numerous telephone calls, some of then threatening, to either support or not support Williams. But, she said she could not vote to extend the administrator's contract for another year.
    "I want to personally thank this administrator for all that he has done," she said.