Council spars over Tryon manager firing

Published 4:52 pm Wednesday, February 20, 2013

King continued to say the town didn’t give the manager a review and said council needs to fix its problems. He also congratulated Baker and Peoples for speaking up.

Council held a closed session meeting on Friday, Feb. 8 for personnel and during open session decided to terminate Martin, who’d been employed with the town since September 2012. Miller and commissioners Doug Arbogast and Wim Woody voted to terminate Martin.

According to the minutes from the meeting, Mayor Peoples entertained a motion to enter into closed session on Feb. 8 at 10 a.m. Arbogast made a motion to go into closed session and the motion carried 3-1 with Baker voting against. The minutes also state that during open session, mayor pro tem Miller and commissioners Arbogast and Woody were present with a parenthetical note stating, “Mayor Alan Peoples and Commissioner George Baker were not present, both having left the meeting during the prior closed session portion.”

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King’s comment during Tuesday night’s meeting sparked Miller to respond.

“When you make assumptions make sure they’re factual,” Miller said to King.

He told King he didn’t understand his applauding the mayor and Baker, when, “the last manager firing was right here,” as Miller pointed to Peoples. “I didn’t see you (King) at the meeting when we fired Mr. (Justin) Hembree.”

Martin’s firing came just over a year after Tryon fired former town manager Justin Hembree, who worked for the town for approximately three years. Hembree’s firing came under scrutiny  immediately because council held a meeting without notifying the public. Council later said they made a procedural mistake by not taking a vote to fire Hembree and officially terminated his position during a later open session meeting.

Peoples responded to Miller on Tuesday night that he did a review for Hembree, but Miller quickly said he never did one.

Miller asked Baker if the town gave Hembree a review.

“In fairness to Mr. Miller, not while I was commissioner,” Baker admitted. “Not that that makes Martin’s right. Two wrongs don’t make a right. If you remember, I was kind of hot over that too.”

Following Tuesday’s meeting, council went into closed session for personnel reasons and to approve closed session minutes and quickly returned. Council directed staff to advertise for a permanent manager. The town also on Feb. 8 appointed fire chief and code enforcer Joey Davis as interim town manager. Davis also served in all positions between Hembree and Martin’s employments spanning from January 2012 until Martin’s hiring in September 2012.

Commissioner Wim Woody was absent during Tuesday night’s meeting.