Highway department saga dominates Pulaski Commissioners meeting

Information is slowly emerging about the recent suspensions with pay of longtime Pulaski County Highway Superintendent Kenny Becker and office manager Lin Morrison and subsequent investigation by the county commissioners. Both are back to work, although Becker has not been restored to the superintendent’s job. He’s handling the day-to-day duties and reporting to commissioner Larry Brady. The suspensions occurred after commissioners received reports of criminal activity, which county attorney Kevin Tankersley acknowledges were unfounded. However, Brady did find that it was a common practice for employees to leave about 15 minutes early and have one worker clock everybody out at quitting time. That is a violation of the county employee policy handbook, which was adopted last April. Highway department employees claim they were unaware of the policy and did not receive a copy of the manual until last week. Tankersley says each department head got a copy in April and was responsible for sharing the policy book with employees. Commissioners voted unanimously to take 15 minutes of comp time from each employee who did not clock out on the day of Brady’s discovery to make up for the time not worked. They say this is necessary to satisfy auditors from the State Board of Accounts, as misrepresenting the amount of time worked can be considered ghost employment.

Becker’s supporters note that Pulaski County’s roads are among the best in the state. Tankersley says that’s never been questioned. He added that Becker is still in charge of road maintenance and said Brady is working with him on personnel management issues. Commissioners have not set a timeline for Becker’s reinstatement to the superintendent’s position. Tankersley said they will discuss the matter in a called executive session and take a vote during a public meeting. Their next regular session is Monday, March 4 at 6 p.m. EST at the Pulaski County Courthouse.