The Calhoun County Commission voted 3-1 this afternoon to terminate Sonny O'Bryan, the former county administrator, grants coordinator and emergency management director.
Last Thursday night, the BCC voted 3-2 to change O'Bryan's title from county administrator to public works director, while also retaining him as emergency management director and grants coordinator. The motion, made by Darrell McDougald, also included cutting O'Bryan back to 31 hours per week and setting his pay at $50,000 for his part-time work.
During this afternoon's regular session, Lee Shelton made the motion to terminate O'Bryan. Assistant County Administrator Joe Wood, who had been hired in 2009 with the understanding O'Bryan was retiring in 2010, along with Assistant Emergency Management Director Angie Smith, were both reportedly being prepared to assume O'Bryan's roles upon his retirement. However, O'Bryan retired for only 30 days and returned to work at full pay with no apparent plan on when he would resume his retirement. O'Bryan reportedly declined the request to complete training Wood and Smith within a 90-day period. He did not attend today's meeting.
Commissioners Lee Lee Brown and Thomas Flowers voted with Shelton. Commissioner McDougald voted against the motion. Commissioner Truman Grant was absent.
During commissioner time at the end of the meeting, McDougald read a resignation letter from O'Bryan. It was reportedly rejected based on the fact he had already been terminated.
Wood and Smith have been promoted to take over O'Bryan's former posts.
A Calhoun County Commissioner workshop and special meeting Thursday night to discuss Sonny O'Bryan's position turned into a bash Joe Wood, Jr. session.
By meeting's end, the board voted 3-2 to change O'Bryan's title from county administrator to public works director, while also retaining him as emergency management director and grants coordinator. The motion, made by Darrell McDougald, also included cutting O'Bryan back to 31 hours per week and setting his pay at $50,000 for his part-time work. Truman Grant and Lee Shelton voted with McDougald. Chairman Thomas Flowers and Lee Lee Brown voted against the motion.
The audience gasped as O'Bryan commended his own efforts, but criticized Joe Wood, Jr., the man hired nearly two and a half years ago as assistant county administrator. O'Bryan was expected to train Wood to assume the county administrator and grants coordinator post. When questioned by the board about whether or not he had trained Wood, he said, "There was no litmus test," and "I can't make Joe do anything he doesn't want to do." Other comments included, "I can lead a mule to water, but I can't make him drink."
Meanwhile, O'Bryan continued praising his own accomplishments and efforts, explaining how he was "self taught" in all that he had learned since being hired in 1991. "I'm sorry, Joe, I should have been a better teacher, but Joe needs to be a better student," he remarked.
McDougald acknowledged that Wood's style is much more people friendly than O'Bryan's brash nature, going so far as to say he has to go ahead of O'Bryan on road projects, meeting with residents to avoid O'Bryan offending them during the process. However, McDougald commended O'Bryan's method for getting things done.
As previously reported, O'Bryan retired in early 2011, six months after Wood was hired. O'Bryan returned to work 30 days after retiring, assumed his old position at $80,000 per year (plus full retirement), with the understanding he would be training Wood to take over the county administrator role and Angie Smith, the assistant emergency management director, to assume the director's post in that department.
Joe Wood, Jr. sat quietly and did not comment on O'Bryan's remarks about him.
The commission will meet Tuesday, Dec. 4, at 2 p.m. and discuss Joe Wood's position.
County commissioners can be reached at the following numbers:
Darrell McDougald 674-5921
Truman Grant 643-8510 or 674-4620
Lee Lee Brown 447-0189
Lee Shelton 447-4716
Thomas Flowers 643-6200
The County Record is obtaining a full tape of last night's meeting. Watch for a full story Monday on our website and in Wednesday's print edition.
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