After a lengthy discussion Tuesday morning, the Sullivan County Commission voted to delay its appointment of an interim highway commissioner until March 17. The motion to do so included a stipulation that the county highway department continue under the leadership of longtime employee Jim Montgomery "and Bobby Manning."
Mayor Steve Godsey had publicly said earlier this month that he had temporarily named Montgomery to lead the department after the retirement last month of Terry Shaffer. Discussing the issue Tuesday morning, Godsey said he had asked Montgomery and Manning to keep things running until the county commission officially appointed someone to the highway commissioner's post until the county general election in August.
It turns out, however, that there is an existing policy that establishes a continuity of leadership at the highway department in cases of retirement, resignation or removal of the county's highway commissioner.
Sullivan County highway commissioners are required to submit a letter naming their own temporary successor to lead the department until the county commission appoints someone to serve until the next election.
That didn't come up during the county commission's initial discussion Tuesday.
But after the vote to take no action until March 17, County Commissioner Mike Surgenor asked if that letter existed. Godsey said yes, he had a copy.
Surgenor asked who the letter names as Shaffer's temporary successor. Godsey said he did not know, that he had forgotten to open and read the letter.
A five-minute recess was called so Godsey could go to his office, adjoining the Commission Room, to retrieve the letter.
Godsey returned and said the letter, dated Dec.12, named Manning as Shaffer's temporary successor.
Read more on this story in tomorrow's print edition of the Times-News.