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New hires don’t always meet requirements

Staff writer

Most job descriptions — particularly those at government agencies — list specific training or education required for the post.

That was the case when Peabody advertised for a new public works superintendent and when Marion sought a new city clerk.

Peabody last week named Zac Thackston as its superintendent, promoting him from interim superintendent at $22 an hour.

City council members voted 4-1 to do so. Catherine Weems cast the lone “no” vote.

Council members praised Thackston for filling in since December.

Thackston has completed some but not all of the required training for the job — certification of a first water and wastewater class but not a second. Thackston hopes to complete the Level 2 class later this year.

The city had a superintendent for about a year before he stepped down in December. The job had been vacant since then.

“I think you’re doing an excellent job as well,” Weems told Thackston at the council’s meeting last week. “My only hesitation is I’d like to see you accomplish it before taking you from interim to permanent.”

Weems knew she was in a minority, but she stressed “those certifications are a job requirement.”

City treasurer Lori Pickens cautioned the council not to pass Thackston up.

He could earn more at other places, she said, and the job had been advertised extensively with no interest.

Lack of applicants is a common problem in both government and private sectors in Marion County.

Former Florence city clerk Janet Robinson became Marion’s clerk earlier this year. But her predecessor, Tiffany Jeffrey, has had to step in to help her do the job.

The city has contracted with Jeffrey’s new employer, the Loyd Group, to have Jeffrey train Robinson and assistant city clerk and treasurer Becky Makovec at a rate of $100 an hour.

Cities “have to be flexible sometimes when finding staff to fill positions,” Weems wrote in an email Monday. “Frankly, I think that Zac is doing a good job overall, and I hope to continue to see positive results,”

“The personnel committee, which consists of myself, Councilman Reynolds and the mayor, had discussed the subject of whether or not to move forward with transitioning Zac from interim to director.  I expressed my opinion of moving forward with hiring another public works employee and that I would support the promotion of Zac when he completes his Class II water and wastewater certification at the end of this year.”

Peabody council member typically discuss personnel matters in executive session, she wrote.

“That is where the discussion belonged in my opinion,” Weems wrote. “I was elected by my community to make good, thoughtful decisions.  I believe it is important to stand up for what is in the best interest of the community. 

“These certifications help ensure the health and safety of our community, and I stand behind my opinion that these are critical milestones that need to be met to be successful in this position.”

In other business, the council voted unanimously to award Pickens a $500 bonus for her efforts keeping City Hall operational after former city clerk Taylor Ensminger resigned.

Gina VanCuren is the new city clerk in Peabody.

Last modified May 17, 2023

 

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