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Rockwood takes another look at utility manager complaints

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By The Staff

By CHERYL DUNCAN

cduncan@roanecounty.com

Rockwood Water, Sewer and Gas general manager Rod King received a vote of confidence on Nov. 10 when the board governing the utilities decided against reprimanding him for complaints leveled by a Rockwood couple last month.

Those complaints and other allegations dominated discussions during the board’s regular meeting Monday. Jim and Rose Hines took up board member James Nuckols on his offer to address a taped one-sided conversation King said was between him and Jim Hines and initiated the matter.

“You kind of put me out to pasture,” said Hines, not to be confused with the Rockwood city recorder of the same name. “You never gave me a chance to tell you that it wasn’t correct.”

The Hineses told the board in October that King had been loud, obnoxious, a bully and had lied to them over two days of dealing with a water-pressure issue.

Those accusations were evaluated in the Nov. 10 session in which board Chairman Harold Ishman declined to allow public comment.

King spoke in an even tone on the tape, which recorded only his end of the conversation. Hines said the recording was not of the actual conversation he had with King.

“Gentlemen, that was not the tape I heard in no way,” he said. “There’s something wrong somewhere.”

Ishman said the board made its decision on the evidence presented. He added that utilities secretary/treasurer Joan Kerley verified she was in the office when the call was made.

Rockwood Vice Mayor Peggy Evans showed board members police incident reports from 2003-05 that she said illustrated a pattern of behavior. Each incident brought to light, however, was refuted by former and present utilities employees who said they witnessed the referenced matters.

“I don’t believe it’s the responsibility of this board to investigate what has already been investigated,” Ishman said.

“Have you seen any of the reports before?” Evans asked.

“I wasn’t on the board then,” Ishman replied.

Nuckols broached the possibility of putting a customer service person in place to deal with customer complaints and issues.

Ishman said he and Mayor James Watts have discussed a plan for handling customer service for the utilities, and he intends to bring it before the board in the near future.

“There’s none of us here that’s perfect,” Nuckols said. “We just need to try to do the best we can and move forward.”