Friday, October 15, 2010

Lauderdale EMA--An Inglorious Past

Earlier this week, we commented on the ongoing problems between Lauderdale County Commissioner Rhea Tays Fulmer and Emergency Management Agency Director George Grabryan. At that time we largely stated a few facts concerning the agency's problems during Grabryan's tenure, without commenting on either the director's job performance or the commissioner's claims against him.

Oddly enough, our e-mail from Grabryan supporters state we slighted him, while our e-mail from Fulmer fans accuse us of painting her as someone with an unfair vendetta. Perhaps the most humorous comment from a Fulmer supporter called our blog "just a gossip column," apparently because we actually refused to publish unfounded (at this time) gossip concerning Mr. Grabryan.

Without touching on current problems, the EMA/911 office was certainly embroiled in controversy for many years before Grabryan became director in early 1999. Federal charges of theft and fraud were brought against long time director George Mangum some months after his retirement to Florida. Mangum pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years probation. While the two remaining defendants were tried in Federal Court in Huntsville, actual fist fights broke out at Crisis Management Team meetings designed to bring more accountability to the Lauderdale EMA. The trial of Richard Hance and Ethelene Duster resulted in a hung jury.

When George Mangum retired in April 1994, Richard Adams took over as director and held the position until his death in November 1998. Adam's death was termed a hunting accident, but at the time of the shooting the 911 account was overdrawn and many bills had gone unpaid since the previous May. The 37 year-old Adams was found shot in the head one day before the official investigation was to begin concerning the missing funds.

After Adams' death, sources reported as much as 400K could have been missing from the 911 account which had been chronically overdrawn in the months before the director died. Some weeks after Adams' death, the figure was adjusted to only 300K; however, to our knowledge the results of the audit have never been made public. This begs the question: Was the audit ever completed?

Ethelene Duster, long time EMA deputy director and co-defendant of George Mangum, applied with 29 others to succeed Adams. The county commission appointed George Grabryan, a Florence police officer, who later terminated Duster. While Duster supporters criticized Grabryan for her dismissal, much criticism of the current director seems to come from responders who have not agreed with his choice of ambulance service in 2002 and 2008. While Grabryan's pick of NorthStar was awarded the contract in 2002, the county commission awarded the latter contract to Lauderdale EMS, an arm of Keller EMS.

Tomorrow: Fulmer's Charges Against Grabryan


From C. R. in Cherokee:

Special Called Meeting

The Cherokee City Council has called a special call meeting for 9 a.m. Saturday morning. The Burger King Four are trying to take away the mayor's powers again. The council cannot pass a law that overrides state law. The council is also dealing with an issue with Melinda Malone. Melinda has refused to pay some of the town's bills. Mayor Lansdell and Councilwomen Lambert had to sign the checks after Melinda refused. I have a question for the mayor. When are you going to fire Malone for failing to perform her job?

It is a Small World

The former Mayor of Cherokee Mignon Willis and current Cherokee Water Board Member was found guilty in a Lee County Mississippi Civil Court. Rehab Solutions PLLC accused then Mayor Willis of failure to carry out her duties as an accountant. The court ordered Mignon Willis to pay Rehab Solutions PLLC over 180,000 dollars.

Rehab Solutions PLLC recently hired Colbert County Attorney Becky Narmore. Narmore drew up paperwork to garnish Mignon Willis' Water Board paycheck. Willis and the Cherokee Water Board have been served with the paperwork. From this day forward a portion of Willis paycheck will go to pay back her court ordered debt. Remember the Mignon Willis controlled city council fired Narmore a few months ago.


A ghost movie for those with a short attention span: