Firing of police officer upheld at Marked Tree Council

Friday, October 13, 2017

During Monday's Marked Tree City Council meeting, the mayor cast a tie-breaking vote to not rehire a police officer who was fired in September.

The council previously met for a special meeting on Sept. 21 following the firing of Tommy Hampton from the Marked Tree Police Deparment, but Mayor Mary Ann Arnold pointed out that the council was not following the city's policy on procedure for disciplinary actions--which requires written greivances be submitted to a supervisor, department head, and then the mayor before a terminated employee can address the council--and the council agreed to adjourn that meeting so the proper procedure could be followed.

Hampton was on the agenda Monday night and told the council he was fired the day after making a complaint to his department head. The council then went into executive session to discuss the issue. When they came out of executive session, the council voted on a motion to not bring Hampton back and tied with a vote of 4-4. Mayor Arnold broke the tie by voting not to bring Hampton back on.

In other business, the council granted permission to accept two police cars being donated to the city. Police Chief Michael Matlock said two of the department's vehicles have become money pits, and he has looked into replacing them through donations. One vehicle, a 2013 Ford Explorer, is being donated outright. Matlock said another vehicle, a 2017 Ford Explorer, could be paid for thanks to donations from companies. Both vehicles will need to be outfitted, at around $5,000 each, and the old vehicles will be sold.

The council also approved a resolution to lease a 2018 freightliner M2-106 chassis with Peterson YL3 lightning loader for a total of $142,350 on a two-year lease-purchase agreement. The council tabled a resolution on a dump truck until the next meeting.

The council granted permission to: sell the property at 209 Broadway should a buyer show interest; pay the code enforcement officer for mailouts to 702 Lindsay, 401 Union, and 210 11th Street; pay drainage taxes for 209 Broadway; pay Poinsett County Abstract for 109 Sycamore; and pay for mowing, weed eating, and picking up limbs at 607 Home Street.

Tom Rhoads addressed the council regarding the mural on the side of the old Scott's Furniture building. Rhoads said the mural is 3/4 of the way covered in vines and called for the vines to be taken care of. City Clerk Pam Wright said the area used to be maintained by the Woman's Progressive Club, who have since turned it back over to the city. Wright said they city takes care of it when they have a chance and haven't been able to. She said they worked on it the first of summer and that it has grown back since then.

In other business, the council:

*gave permission to proceed on looking into refinancing the 1996 sales and use tax bonds.

*amended the personnel policy to include a social media policy.

*approved hiring two employees for the street and sanitation departments.

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