Judge Wood, magistrates debate over appointment

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By Amanda Kelly, Staff Writer


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Rather than taking action to hire a new building inspector, the Grant County Fiscal Court tensely debated the issue.

During a July 2 meeting, Judge-Executive Steve Wood made a motion to hire Tony Ashcraft to replace retiring county building inspector Terry Conrad, but the motion went un-seconded by the court.  Magistrates Shawna Coldiron and Bobby Newman said they wanted to hold off on voting until magistrate Jacqalynn Riley was present, discuss the position and salary and then take a vote later on, much to Wood’s frustration. 

“I want to vote tonight,” Wood said. “You can either tell me you’re turning him down or voting him in. I’m getting tired of this game you all are playing. If I say A, you all say B. If I say black, you all say white. You never agree with anything I want to do. This is a good man. And he’s got to give two-weeks notification and get with [Conrad.] We need to hire him tonight. We don’t need [magistrate] Jacqalynn [Riley] here tonight. I’m not saying anything bad about Jacqalynn, but we don’t need her here to vote on this. We have two people here; we have a quorum. Let’s go on and vote.”

Wood made a motion to appoint Ashcraft to fill Conrad’s shoes, and he even pleaded with the magistrates to make a second on his motion. 

Wood: “Is there a second? Bobby, come on. Stand up, Bobby.”

Newman: “I told you earlier we need to table this…”

Wood: “We don’t need to talk about this. It’s either yay or nay. Shawna, make a second. Bobby, second it. I dare you.”

Although Wood laughed after he dared the magistrates to second his motion, the fiscal court continued to discuss the matter. 

Coldiron told the court she expressed her concerns for hiring Ashcraft at a $50,000 salary in an e-mail to Wood early July 2, hours before the meeting. 

Coldiron, using the “Step’N’Grade” salary scale that was used to adjust county employees’ salaries during budget talks in May and June, said the position and prior-experience adjustments would allow for a $40,303 yearly salary. 

Wood and Coldiron then went back and forth on the salary. 

Wood: “We can’t hire him for $40,000. We can’t get anyone with experience for $40,000. I’ve checked. I wish you all would trust me every once in a while. We can’t get anyone. We’ll be without a building inspector starting Aug. 1.”

Coldiron: “I really wish you had come to us if it was going to go outside…”

Wood: ”I don’t have to notify you of anything…I’m the judge and you’re a magistrate.”

Coldiron: ”You are part of the fiscal court. The fiscal court is responsible for position and salary.”

Wood: ”No, I’m responsible for position. You’re responsible for salary.”

Coldiron: ”No.”

Wood: ”Yes.”

Coldiron: ”No.”

Wood: ”Yes.”

Coldiron: ”No, we have to approve the position.”

Wood: ”I made recommendations and you approve or not approve.” 

Coldiron: ”You’re asking to appoint. We approve the dollar amount as fiscal court together. You’re a part of the fiscal court.”

Wood: ”I’m over the court.”

Coldiron: ”You are not over the fiscal court, you are part of the fiscal court.”

Wood: ”I appoint everybody.”

Coldiron: ”You can appoint whoever you want, but the position and salary is at the judicial…

Wood: This is a position.”

Coldiron: ”That’s appointment. Appointment is no problem. The position and the salary needs to be discussed with the…”

Wood: ”Alright…I recommend the position. Darrell Link did it. I watched him for years. Shirley Howard did it for years.” 

Coldiron: ”Just because they all did it, doesn’t mean it was the right way, Steve.”

Wood: ”No…”

Coldiron: ”If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.”

Wood: ”I’ve never got what I wanted the last two years. You all vote against me on everything. You’ve gone against me on everything.”

Coldiron: ”Steve, I don’t want to go through this anymore.”

Wood: ”Well, I don’t either, Shawna, but we got to hire this guy. We need to hire him tonight….Twenty-seven years experience and you’re going to turn him away. I can’t believe my eyes and ears. I can’t believe it. That is not part of the administrative code. That is not a part of our personnel policy, that deal that you all got together. I’m the one who gave you all that and I wish I never had now. It’s come back to bite me in the butt. That is not the way we do things around here. It’s not part of the administrative code. It’s not part of policy and procedures. You’re using something that hasn’t even been approved by the court. And you talk about me wanting my way and you got your way last time on everything. Well, Tony, I guess you’re gone. They’re not going to second it.” 

Coldiron: ”Tony, we’ll discuss on this.” 

Wood: ”How?” 

Coldiron:” ”I’ll talk to you about it [said to Ashcraft.]”

Wood: ”What are you going to talk to him? What are you going to say to him? You going to give us an idea?”

Coldiron: ”Evidently you talked to him and didn’t give us any idea of what you were going to say to him.” 

Wood: ”I sent you the agenda four days in advance.”

Coldiron: ”That’s right. And that’s why I e-mailed you first thing this morning and explained to you my concerns. You know my concerns, I went over them with you all day.” 

Wood: ”Then you started talking to me about how many house inspections and you also recommended we hire part-time for this job. That was amazing. You want to hire part-time job for this guy.” 

Coldiron: ”Pat, are we allowed to go on with the next?”

Wood: ”Hey, Shawna, you wanted to hire a part-time job…”

Coldiron: ”I inquired Steve, to look at the total and see how many inspections we have. That amounts to one and a quarter (1.25) inspections a day. How many hours does it take to do an inspection?”

Wood: ”This should have been discussed…”

Coldiron: ”Answer the question, Steve. How many hours does it take to do an inspection?”

Wood: ”I’ll tell you what…this should have been discussed. We should let Terry go. We should let Terry go if you didn’t want him to work full time. He’s been working full time for four years, Shawna. Why are you bringing…”

Coldiron: ”Steve, you’re making…”

Newman: ”We need to move on.”

No more motions were made on the building inspector appointment during the meeting. Although no motion to table hiring Ashcraft as building inspector was seconded (as a motion was made earlier in the meeting to table the topic), the court moved on to the next item.

The court voted to hire Matthew Grubbs for the road department crew. 

The next fiscal court meeting will be at 7 p.m. July 16 in the second-floor courtroom of the Grant County Courthouse.