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Byrge sues Jones

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By Jennifer Caldwell

It’s not business, it’s politics. That is what Roger Byrge is alleging in a lawsuit filed last Friday in circuit court.

Through his attorney Steve Hurst, Byge alleges that Clifton “Tip” Jones “improperly used his authority” in his capacity as environmental services director to terminate Byrge from his employment on July 23.

In the filing Byrge claims, Jones did not provide him with any separation papers. But on July 28 he received a letter laying out reasons for his dismissal, which he alleges Jones had never discussed with him.

The suit states Byrge was hired by the county commission in October 1997 to fill the position of litter control officer. In the complaint Hurst also goes on to allege that while Byrge works in the same area as Jones he does not report to him and only goes to the environmental control office to pick up his pay check. Byrge believes that based on the minutes of the Campbell County Board of Commissioners he is employed by the commission.

The document goes on to state that Byrge has supported current Sheriff Gary Perkins in the current election and that Jones’ nephew, Robbie Goins, is a candidate for sheriff.  Byrge alleges that “Jones’ attempts to terminate his employment are politically motivated and wrongful.”

The commission is also named as a defendant in the suit. Byrge alleges that he is entitled to payment for 264 annual hours that were approved by the commission.

Hurst also submits that the commission and County Mayor William Baird are necessary parties to the suit because in their position they are the only lawful authority to terminate Byrge’s employment.

In the complaint Byrge asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order against Jones to keep him from interfering with Byrge’s ability to perform his duties as a litter control officer. Additionally Byrge requests that the commission and Baird also retrained from interfering with Byrge’s duties until a full hearing.