Citizen files Ouster suit

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By Susan Sharp

Clarence Beck thinks Jellico Mayor Les Stiers needs to be fired.

Beck, a Jellico resident, filed the Ouster suit in Campbell County Chancery Court last week.

In  the suit Beck claims Stiers has repeatedly overstepped his authority as mayor. From buying property to awarding work without going through the proper channels Stiers has repeatedly subverted the town’s charter, according to Beck.

Citing numerous incidents of Stier’s actions Beck has not only asked the mayor to respond to the allegations but also asked the court to void all of the events named in the filing.

Specifically Beck claims the town’s $196,000 purchase of a building without an independent appraisal was improper. Beck alleged in the suit Stiers didn’t get an appraisal because he and the owner of the property, Jerome Cummins, were friends. The purchase of the building, which at one time was a church, was “orchestrated” to benefit Cummins, the suit claimed.

Since the building was purchased, the state comptroller’s office deemed the funding for the building, a line of credit, illegal. The Jellico Board of Mayor and Aldermen later converted the line of credit to a capital outlay note.

The building needed a new air conditioning system, the suit said. While bids were taken for the  repairs, Beck said a specific bid was never accepted by the board. Instead, an energy audit was performed. Following this, Stiers acted independently in awarding the contract. This was an illegal move and a violation of the town charter.

Beck further alleged Stiers continued this pattern when he awarded contracts and authorized work without the board’s approval. Specifically, Stiers paid Willy Chadwell $38,000 to repair a stretch of road affected by a mudslide. The road has since incurred further damage necessitating more repairs. A bond wasn’t posted for the repairs so the town will again incur the cost of the repairs, the filing said.

Within the suit Beck claimed the mayor also paid $135,000 to G Paving without the board’s approval. Again, Beck claimed this violated the charter.

Stiers is further accused of gifting an asphalt roller to G Paving without seeking any approval for the move. The roller was owned in part by the Jellico Electric and Water System, which meant the system, suffered a $10,000 loss, the filing said. However, G Paving wasn’t the only entity to benefit from Stiers’ alleged generosity. Beck asserts Willy Chadwell was given a road grader, utility trailer and grading plates. These items were not declared scrap by the town nor were they available at an auction, according to the suit. They were “merely given” to Chadwell by Stiers, the filing said.

Beck’s last two claims are that Stiers used restricted grant funds for a “prohibited purpose” instead of installing streetlights as dictated by the grant and he allegedly leased the “city garage to a friend.”

Stiers has 30 days to respond to the allegations.