Assistant budget director sought as possible successor to Terry

Friday, January 13, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Marshall County's next budget director will probably be revealed Thursday when the budget committee votes on three applicants for the position of assistant budget director.

A promotion is more than implied because when commissioners interviewed the top three applicants on Monday night, it was made clear that Budget Director Freda Terry will resign; probably before this time next year.

The top three applicants are: Teresa Moses of Keith Cove, Lewisburg, a former school board accountant here; Catherine C. Brooks of Columbia where she worked for Regions Bank before becoming an accountant at Teledyne here; and Jimmy Lee Tidwell of Lawrenceburg who has extensive government accounting experience including assignments in Washington, D.C. and in a combat zone at Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Nine people applied for the assistant budget director's position. There is no assistant budget director now, nor has there been one in recent memory. Terry was a budget office clerk when she succeeded Kenneth Carr as director.

Six of the nine applicants passed a three-hour test administered by the Tennessee Career Center at the Columbia State Community College campus on South Ellington Parkway. One of the six found another job. Budget committeemen decided to interview the top three candidates.

The budget committee is scheduled to decide on the evening of Jan. 19 who should be the assistant director of accounts and budget. That Thursday meeting is four days before this month's commission meeting.

Close observers of the county government - Wilford "Spider" Wentzel, a former county commissioner, is one, and he attended the budget session Monday - would remember that Moses is the wife of county school board member Donnie Moses, and that she filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission office in Nashville alleging discrimination on the basis of race. She's white. The retiring schools director is black. She alleged: Director Roy Dukes recommended abolition of the job she had; and that the school system's special projects supervisor, now a former county commissioner, Linda Williams-Lee who's black, "harassed me on a daily basis." Moses' complaint also states that her job was abolished right after her husband announced his candidacy for school board.

The EEOC office completed its investigation into her complaint, issued a notice telling her she has a right to sue the county, and the subsequent complaint in U.S. District Court at Nashville is unresolved. She's represented by Lewisburg-based attorney Walter Bussart. Moses says her complaint includes elements that could substantiate a claim of retaliation against her for being a whistle blower because she spoke up about not being comfortable about doing things that were apparently made part of her job.

Former schools budget director Janet Wiles is one of Moses' references. Wiles resigned and also complained to the EEOC about working conditions at school headquarters.

Given his extensive military accounting experience, the applicant from Lawrenceburg has requested he be granted a veteran's preference, typically a factor under the federal Civil Service system. Commissioner Sheldon Davis, director of the county's maintenance department and a member of the budget committee indicated that he didn't think that would apply to the county budget office job.

Tidwell's resume also shows he's been a legal assistant for a Lawrenceburg law firm. He's been a managerial accountant and a financial analyst at Army Finance Headquarters with offices at the nation's capitol and the Pentagon. He's been a voucher examiner for the Department of Defense in Nashville and an accounting technician for the DOD.

He's now proprietor of Tidwell's Home Bargains at Leoma in Lawrence County.

The other applicant who scored well on the test conducted by the Career Center is Brooks who worked for a commercial insurance underwriter before her work at Regions. Her 2010 bachelor's degree is in government accounting from Athens State University. Her associate's degree from Columbia State emphasizes accounting.

Before committeemen interviewed Brooks, Tidwell and Moses, they decided to score the three and then vote 10 days later. Committeemen include Davis, Chairman Barry Spivey, Phil Willis, Mickey King and Tom Sumners who was absent.