Rockwood dismisses parks head

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By Cindy Simpson

Jody Mioduski is out as Rockwood Park and Recreation director — and if some members of Rockwood City Council wanted to know why he was dismissed, they didn’t hear it — or any discussion, for that matter — before the vote was taken.

“I was never told the grounds for dismissal, and they have voted to dismiss me from the position,” Mioduski said following Thursday’s meeting in which the Council voted for dismissal.

Mayor James Watts had previously said there were issues brought to his attention about Mioduski’s management style.

The Council voted 4-2 for dismissal — with Mayor James Watts casting his first vote allowed by a recent Rockwood City Charter change.

The vote was taken after Councilman Pete Wright quickly called for the question, circumventing any discussion.

“I knew we were going to have this type of conversation and didn’t want to listen to it,” Wright told a media representative from another news agency following the meeting.

Wright refused to talk to the Roane County News because he said the newspaper rarely asks for his input.

“I’m not going to talk to you about any business down here,” Wright told the Roane County News.

“I told you that I was not going to discuss any matter with you because this is the first time in two and a half years that you have asked me anything,” he added.

Wright and Watts were joined by Vice Mayor Jason Jolly and Councilman James Nuckols in voting in favor of Mioduski’s termination.

The ouster comes at what is the department’s busiest times of year. Play is heating up at the Mike “Brillo” Miller Sports Complex, which traditionally hosts a number of baseball and softball matchups in the summer months.

The department is also getting ready to open up the city swimming pool to the public on June 2.

Councilwoman Peggy Evans misunderstood what was happening when the question was called until the vote took place, but she still got in her two cents at the end of the meeting.

“I’m extremely disappointed in a lot of the procedures that have happened and gone on,” she said. “I was prevented from talking tonight and expressing opinion, and in my estimation Mr. Mioduski, I have questioned and asked the mayor for reasons why this took place. I was never given a reason at all,” Evans said.

“The mayor put him on leave,” she added. “The mayor should have given that information if he knew that information.”

Mioduski’s personnel file had little of note. A May 9 letter from Watts said Mioduski was placed on paid administrative leave.

A May 15 letter is addressed to Mioduski:

“Dear Jody,

On May 9, 2014, we discussed some issues, which had been brought to my attention relating to your position as director of park and recreation. As a result of our conversation, I placed you on suspension with paid leave pending action of the Rockwood City Council.”

Rockwood department heads are at-will employees. That means they can be relieved of their jobs for any reason.

When asked if he knew why Mioduski was terminated, Nuckols said no.

“No ma’am, I do not,” Nuckols emphasized. “I have no comment on that.”

Park and Recreation employee Mike Reed was appointed interim director.