The vehicle misuse was discovered when Logan County Solid Waste Authority Director Arnold Kazee was photographed by The Logan Banner driving his county vehicle to the state basketball tournament in March to watch the Logan Wildcats play. Then, additional photos surfaced of Kazee with the vehicle at a Madison Little League All-Stars game last year.
The photos showed Kazee standing outside his county-owned Jeep Liberty at the Madison Little League field. Kazee had previously told The Logan Banner that driving the county vehicle to the state basketball tournament in Charleston was the only time he'd misused the vehicle.
Logan County Commission President Art Kirkendoll said he will not tolerate any more vehicle misuse by county employees.
"I'm going to take a strong position on all of it and when I'm notified of any misuse, we're going to do whatever we need to do," Kirkendoll told The Logan Banner yesterday in an exclusive interview.
After two reports surfaced showing the county had been admonsished by the State Auditor's office for having a history of allowing its employees to use vehicles for their own personal business, reports of misuse of county-owned vehicles by other persons started to surface.
Complaints were phoned in to The Logan Banner about the Cora Volunteer Fire Department van being used by its members for personal business. Last year, a Cora VFD official's relative was arrested for DUI in the van.
Then, additional complaints were phoned in to The Logan Banner about a Henlawson Fire Department member driving a county-owned truck for nearly a year as his personal vehicle.
The Logan Banner investigated both reports of misuse and found them to be true and then reported its findings to the Logan County Commission.
Kirkendoll said he immediately took action to make sure the misuse of the fire department vehicles stopped.
"That has been taken care of," Kirkendoll said.
In the case of the Henlawson Fire Department Ford F-150 truck being used by a fire department member, the truck was previously owned by the member and then transferred into the county's possession in December 2006. From that point on, the fire department member continued to drive the vehicle - for which the county was paying the insurance - until it was reported to the commission several days ago.
Yesterday, Kirkendoll said the commission will not tolerate the misuse of county vehicles to continue.
"I'm going to sit down with Fire Coordinators Jimmy Porter and Harold Ward and say 'Each one of you have six departments and anything that is contrary to what we do ... as far as policy and procedures and illegal use of the vehicles, you guys are responsible for policing that and giving us a report at least once a month and talk to the chiefs. Memos are to go to these people that you're going to be watching,'' Kirkendoll said. "We're going to crack down."
Kirkendoll said appropriate sanctions were taken against Kazee for him misusing the county Jeep Liberty.
"I'm going to sit down and talk to the sheriff and everybody else and put them all on notice that we allow deputies to take cars home because they are a presence in the community," Kirkendoll said. "If they get home and decide they want to run back to Kroger and shop, then, no, they will all be put on notice that this will not be put up with.
"When I found out about Mr. Kazee, he was sanctioned. When I found out about the fire departments, the insurance was put into the proper hands."