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Department heads will share administrator’s duties

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By Dwane Wilder

LAFOLLETTE—City council voted Tuesday night to spread the city administrator duties around until the situation with administrator Billie Russell is resolved.

Councilman Joe Bolinger made a motion that each department handle its own issues and, if further direction is needed, council members could be polled.

Councilman Hansford Hatmaker immediately launched into a verbal tirade, claiming the move was politically aligned against him. He was the only member of council to vote against Bolinger’s motion. 

Mayor Mike Stanfield threatened to have Hatmaker removed for the outburst, and policemen were at the ready. However, he soon calmed down.

During last week’s workshop, Hatmaker had suggested that Codes Enforcement Officer Stan Foust or Parks and Recreation Director Johnny Byrge could handle the extra workload because they had fewer employees to supervise. 

Russell was hired in May as the city’s first female administrator. She replaced Cade Sexton, who resigned in January in the midst of a scandal involving a wrecked city vehicle.

Russell has been on medical leave since Oct. 11, after the city recorder, police chief and entire police department each filed grievances against her.

Because of stress from the grievances, Russell was admitted to the hospital and was said to be suffering from high blood pressure, a heart condition and severe emotional distress. 

A worker’s compensation claim has been filed, according to her attorney, Dave Dunaway. 

The grievances were supposed to be discussed in a special called meeting on Oct. 15, but the meeting was cancelled.