Calhoun county commission conducted a special meeting
last Thursday at 9 a.m. in the Calhoun Courthouse little courtroom to
discuss a decision made at its July 6 meeting.
At that meeting, Charles McCroskey was not approved as a
deputy sheriff to be located at Calhoun Middle/High School. The position
was to be funded by a grant that has yet to be received by the county.
Commissioners said that, due to fiscal responsibility,
they would not approve sheriff Allen Parson’s request.
Initially, commissioners said that they did not schedule
the meeting to discuss the issues with McCroskey, but to discuss
Once informed by Parsons that McCroskey was present for
the meeting, commissioner Bob Weaver said that an executive session may
be in order.
Circuit clerk Richard Kirby said that McCroskey was not
a county employee, thus the meeting was not a personnel issue, and did
not need to be in executive session.
Commissioners asked McCroskey if he would like to waive
his rights and allow the meeting to be public.
McCroskey agreed to the stipulation.
Shari Johnson explained the background of the Pro
Officer Grant that she initiated in April for CM/HS.
She said that superintendent Roger Propst stated that
the school system could not hire a deputy for the school as they did not
want to be the fiscal agent.
the sheriff’s department to request that it be the fiscal agent, but
found that it could not serve as the agent and as the supervising
This led to a request for the county commission to serve
as fiscal agent.
Because it is a reimbursement grant, the commission
asked Johnson to meet with prosecuting attorney Shelly DeMarino, and
then return to talk the matter over with commissioner Chip Westfall.
Johnson said that she was unsuccessful in trying to talk
with Marino or with Tony Morgan. She said, therefore, there was no
reason to meet with Westfall, and a meeting was not held.
Commissioners said that, though their questions were not
answered, they took a leap of faith and submitted the grant one day
From that submission, commissioners said it showed that
they supported and approved the grant, but that the issue is not in the
support of the grant, but in other matters related to the grant.
The first issue began June 24, when the civil service
board met with McCroskey and Parsons to process his reinstatement.
McCroskey was denied testing through the county clerk’s
office because of his age. The cut off for the Civil Service test is age
45. McCroskey is 49.
McCroskey had requested the meeting with the Deputy
Sheriff Civil Service board to determine if he was eligible to be
reinstated as a deputy sheriff for Calhoun County for the purpose of
being considered for the position that would be funded if the grant was
received by the county.
During the civil service board meeting, Charles McDonald
made a motion to reinstate McCroskey and JoAnn Stevens seconded the
motion. Loren Howley opposed the motion, stating that she was concerned
with the clear letter of the law.
Stevens made an amended motion that McCroskey would only
be reinstated if the grant was approved. McDonald seconded the motion
and the motion passed with Stevens and McDonald in favor, and Howley
Parsons reinstated McCroskey to a position that would
come with the grant monies.
Parsons said, “I am willing, as sheriff of this county,
to take the chance. The money is coming out of my budget to pay him. The
state has the cart before the horse . . . I was in the position where I
had come up to June 30. Charlie had to be in school July 5 for mandatory
training for this position.
“I really didn’t have a choice . . . so hereby appointed
Charlie McCroskey. That is why I did what I did. I couldn’t stand by as
sheriff of this county knowing that the school needs a pro officer out
there and we stand to lose over $200,000 for this county. So, I took the
broad shoulders, so to speak. We need this desperately.”
Commissioners said that the reinstatement was still a
concern as the prosecuting attorney had given her opinion that McCroskey
was not eligible for appointment by reinstatement. No decision was made
about the appointment during the commission meeting.
(Later in the day, DeMarino issued a letter to
commissioners that read in part: “Upon initially receiving the request
to address this matter, I reviewed the statute. Upon further review, I
have researched case law and found authority that specifically states .
. . ‘County civil service commission had exclusive discretionary
authority to reinstate a deputy sheriff . . .’ Therefore, I would
respectfully accept and abide by any decision made (by) the Calhoun
Civil Service Commission.”)
The second issue discussed was that the grant has not
yet been approved. The hire was to be based on the approval of the
“Our budget is hanging by a thread. Six weeks could sink
us,” said Westfall.
McCroskey said that it was his understanding that the
decision should be at the discretion of the Civil Service board.
“I understand the money thing, if the grant doesn’t go
through I don’t have a job,” said McCroskey. “I footed the bill last
week for six nights of motel and fed myself at some $800. I know that if
the grant doesn’t go through I don’t have a job.”
Commissioners agreed that Parsons has the constitutional
right to hire whom he chooses, but if the grant is not received, they
had the right to deny the approval of the hire.
The meeting adjourned at 10:12 a.m. The next meeting of
the county commission is scheduled Monday, Aug. 17, 9 a.m., in the