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Locust Grove city manger’s contract not renewed

Councilmembers approve move 5 to 1

Don McKenzie

Don McKenzie

Locust Grove City Manager Don McKenzie will be out of a job at the end of the year.

Members of the city council have voted 5 to 1, not to renew his contract, during a special called meeting on Monday.

After the vote was taken, residents attending the session applauded.

Councilmembers, along with Mayor Lorene Lindsey, had immediately gone into executive session after their meeting was called to order at 6 p.m.

After an hour in executive session, they emerged and a motion was made to not renew McKenzie’s $88,579.22 annual contract. His last day of employment as Locust Grove City Manager will be Dec. 31, at 11:55 p.m., according to the vote. Mayor Lorene Lindsey did not vote.

McKenzie was hired from among a field of 42 applicants for the city manager's job, said Lindsey, looking back on his employment. "He was among the five finalists, and he seemed to fit what we needed," she said.

The lone dissenting vote on renewing the contract came from Councilman Keith Boone. "I think that our city manager was doing a good job, and he may have made a bad decision in the [recent] firings,” said Boone. “ Other than that, I thought he was doing a fine job."

Boone said he was not on the council when McKenzie was hired, but he has worked with him for two years.

McKenzie drew the ire of the mayor, and most councilmembers, when fired the city’s police chief, Jesse Patton, and its city clerk, Theresa Breedlove, on Oct. 17. Both Patton and Breedlove appealed McKenzie’s action, and were reinstated by the mayor and council on Oct. 25.

Breedlove said her firing stemmed from words she and McKenzie exchanged during a governmental retreat. She said he challenged her job performance, and she challenged his.

Patton said McKenzie accused him of taking pictures of employees repairing McKenzie’s truck during their work hours. A picture surfaced that is purported to be of McKenzie’s truck receiving work inside the city’s public works facility.

McKenzie did attend the special called meeting, but left city hall without comment, immediately when council went into executive session.

“We’ve had a lot of issues this year and we just want to try to put it all to rest, by not renewing his contract,” said Otis Hammock, one of the councilmembers who voted for the non-renewal of McKenzie’s contract. “We just want to give our city a new direction. We have a new city council and mayor coming on board the first of the year to get past our problems of the past.”

Another councilmember who voted not to renew the city manager’s contract was Francis Ward.

“I agreed that we not renew his contract,” said Ward.