Tempers flare, opinions voiced at County Commission meeting

September 5, 2013

Rachel Baldwin

Staff Writer

WILLIAMSON - “Let’s put politics behind us and work for the good of the Mingo County taxpayers,” stated Mingo County Clerk, “Big Jim” Hatfield, as he stood before the county commissioners to once again, request permission to hire two additional employees for his office.

This time, however; the outcome was different and the hiring of Marlena Cisco and Elizabeth Williams was approved, but not without a trade agreement being made.

In exchange for allowing the clerk to hire two full-time employees of his choice, Hatfield agreed to sign the personnel policy for the offices of the Mingo County elected officials that has already been approved and adopted by other offices. The policy sets the rules for how vacation days, sick time and personal days of the employees are accrued.

“If you don’t sign the personnel policy I am not giving you two employees,” said Commissioner Smith. “We’ve been over this again and again.”

Hatfield has faithfully attended numerous county commission meetings to plead his case, explaining how the fact that his office was short staffed had created substantial problems that had even forced him to close the office at lunch and he felt this was a disservice to the public. The previous proposal offered to Hatfield to alleviate his problem had been to provide him two employees of the county commission’s choosing after he signed the personnel agreement, with one of those individuals being a current employee of the Mingo County Assessor’s office. Hatfield would not agree to the offer, based on the argument that he should be extended the same opportunity as other elected officials to choose who to hire.

“You all have backed me in a corner long enough,” said Hatfield, as he stood before Commissioners John Mark Hubbard and Greg “Hootie” Smith. “You have abused me, you’ve abused my office. How many other offices have you allowed to hire help over the past year? How many of them are making $50,000 a year salaries?”

“Stand up for your rights, Jim!” exclaimed Columbus Cisco, one of the many residents of the county that were present at the meeting to discuss their displeasure with the current conditions and control of the political offices in the county. “It’s clear to see why they’re treating you this way – you’re not a Team Mingo member.”

“I’m going to run my office the way I see fit,” stated Hatfield. “I was elected by the people, I work for them. I am one of the most honest elected officials in the state and I can tell you that I’ve never took a penny from here. I desperately need these workers; the girls in my office are overworked.”