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City board discusses replacing school board vacancy

BOARD TABLE – Humboldt Mayor Marvin Sikes (from left), city attorney Terri Crider, and aldermen Donna Johnson and James Shivers sit at the board table after last week’s city board meeting. It is the board’s job to name a replacement for Lee Williams who resigned from the school board to take a job in Fort Worth, Tex. The city board is expected to vote on Williams’ replacement at their next meeting.


by Danny Wade

With the task of replacing Lee Williams on the Humboldt School Board, the Humboldt Mayor and Board of Aldermen discussed the process during their March 13 board meeting.

Mayor Marvin Sikes had city attorney, Terri Crider, research the process in replacing a school board member. Her report was presented at last week’s meeting.

Humboldt’s charter does not address how to replace a board member, so Crider referred to state law. According to state law, vacancies occurring on the board shall be filled by the local legislative body. Any person appointed shall serve until a successor is elected at the next general election.

Crider said the mayor and board would fill Williams’ seat for an interim position until the next election, which in Humboldt takes place in November. The interim school board member will serve until December 2017.

During November’s election, the position will be on the ballot but it will only fulfill the remainder of the term (two years).

School board chairman, Phillip Hardee, requested to be on the agenda. Hardee told the mayor and board that he contacted TSBA (Tennessee School Boards Association) to find out about training sessions for school board members. Hardee said there are two training sessions, the first coming in May in Jackson, Tenn. The other will be later this year in Nashville.

Hardee requested the board have a replacement school board member in place prior to the May training.

Two other meetings suggested by TSBA explain laws and changes to the laws made by the legislature in Nashville.

Monday night, Mayor Sikes said he had asked Alderman Bob Pruitt to come up with a list of nominees. Pruitt serves as alderman in the same district Williams served as a school board member.

“I think Bob (Pruitt) should be the one to nominate since that’s his district,” Alderman Don Graves said, agreeing with Sikes recommendation.

“I want someone who brings education,” Alderman Leon McNeal said. McNeal also serves on the school board. “Our schools are 85-percent African-American. We need someone to get involved to do what’s best. We need people who understand the black community.”

McNeal suggested Pruitt not nominate someone just because they are his friend.

“It’s not going to be a friendship,” Pruitt replied. “I’m looking for the best person for our schools.”

Graves said he understood McNeal’s concerns about the high percentage of African-American students in Humboldt schools. But he also said Humboldt needs a diverse school population. The more diverse the schools are, the better, Graves suggested.

Board members nodded their heads agreeing with both McNeal and Graves.

Mayor Sikes had a list of four names Pruitt submitted. A fifth name, upon McNeal’s request, was added to that list.

“All five are good people,” Sikes said. “We can come together on a decision.”

I trust Mr. Pruitt and his judgment,” Alderlady Donna Johnson added.

In other city business:

•The February police and fire reports were accepted. There were two resignation letters presented.

Humboldt policeman, Jeremy Brooks, submitted his resignation and has taken a job with the McKenzie Police Department. Mayor Sikes noted Brooks family is from Carroll County and he wanted to be closer to home.

With Brooks’ resignation, Assistant Police Chief Reynard Buchanan told the board the department was down two officers.

Fireman Jonathan Neal’s letter of resignation was also presented. Neal was relatively new to HFD. Fire Chief Chester Owens said Neal had not attended the academy. Owens said Neal’s family needed him in Memphis.

Chief Owens said the fire department was down three positions but two are currently attending the academy.

•A beer permit for Momz Honkytonk on 1312 Burrow St. was approved. Martha Adams applied for on-site consumption.

Humboldt Police Chief Rob Ellis submitted a report in the agenda packets. The report stated Adams was not wanted and had no violations that would disqualify her from being eligible. He recommended the board approve the beer permit.

Aldermen discussed exactly where Momz was located. It was determined to be where the liquor store was located.

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