Forkland Mayor takes over water department

FORKLAND, Ala. (WIAT) – After a chaotic week of warrants, jail time, and firings; Forkland Mayor Derrick Biggs is back at work at the Forkland Water Department.  Former employees who received termination letters on Friday told WIAT 42 News that they weren’t sure who would run the department after Mayor Biggs fired the entire business office staff.

Some customers who came to pay their water bill on Monday, say they are still somewhat uneasy about handing over any money.  Biggs turned himself in on Wednesday after avoiding law enforcement for several days while there were two warrants out for his arrest.  Those charges stem from allegations that Biggs stole over $6,000 from the Forkland Water Department between December and April.

“We never know if anymore money is going to come up missing after today,” explains customer, Priscilla Turner, “but we still have to pay our water bill because we want our water.”

Several other locals claim that the mayor is already replacing Allene Broadwater, the Water Clerk, he fired on Friday.  We tried to speak with the mayor about the possible hirings or firings, but he declined comment through his locked office door.

“Why fire somebody who is trained and then you don’t know how to train a person that you’re trying to bring in?” says Turner.

The former employees feel they know why the mayor chose to fire them.  “He did it,” says former supervisor Alonzo Thomas.  “He stole the money, and now his name is out there, that he’s a thief, and so now he’s trying to get revenge back at us by firing us.”

In the termination letters given to Broadwater and Thomas, Mayor Biggs sites Section 11-43-81 of the code of Alabama on the termination letters, “that the Mayor may remove any officer for good cause, expect those elected by the people, and fill the vacancy caused thereby, permanently, if the appointment of such office is made by the mayor.”

The letter goes on to say that the terminated employees failed to comply with two group offenses that are listed in the Personnel Policies and Procedures of the Greene County Alabama Handbook.  Although the letter does not specify the offenses, it lists: conduct unbecoming of an Employee; unauthorized release of information, and other conduct.

Broadwater and Thomas tell WIAT 42 that they plan to meet with the city attorney tomorrow morning.  They are trying to find out if the mayor is within his rights to fire them without approval from the entire town council.  There will also be a town council meeting on Wednesday at 6:00 pm.

Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 News

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