BY KELLI PEACOCK DUNN
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.