During the open portion of the meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved authorizing Chairman Grady Thompson to sign Georgia Department of Transportation contracts for the resurfacing of Eldorado-Omega Road and Worth County Line Road. Now that the contracts are signed, the resurfacing of those roads can begin soon.

The board then voted to go into executive session, a section of the meeting closed to the public and the press. The stated purpose of the executive session meeting was to discuss legal and personnel matters.

The board met in executive session for about an hour. During the session, County Manager Bill Park, County Attorney Rob Reinhardt and County Clerk Glynda Hemby were all dismissed from the meeting room for a period of time and commissioners discussed unknown matters among themselves.

After the meeting, there was still no word from commissioners on the reason former Human Resources Director Tracy St. Amant received hefty severance pay after resigning from her post. St. Amant received full pay and benefits from April 26 to Sept. 30, despite the fact that she was not required to work during that time. She was retained by the county as a consultant through June 30, but was still paid through September.

In all, St. Amant was paid more than $25,000 for the time she was not required to come to work.

The Tifton Gazette obtained St. Amant's personnel documents by submitting a request for them under the Freedom of Information Act. However, the county had a superior court judge determine whether to allow the Gazette to see the documents. Judge Ralph Simpson elected to give the paper full access to the documents and the county provided the human resources directors documents to the paper.

During the October regular session meeting of the county board, former commissioner Ronald Nixon addressed the board during the public comments section. Although he pointed no fingers, he said that "something smelled stinky" about the St. Amant deal.

So far, commissioners have said little about the reason for the severance deal with St. Amant. Some of them have said that they instructed Park to arrange the agreement and were not aware of the full details until after the deal was made.

Some commissioners referred questions about the severance agreement to Park, but the county manager said that he was bound by a confidentiality agreement that he and St. Amant signed. The agreement also stated that the former human resources director and the county should drop all legal claims against each other.

To contact reporter Dusty Vassey, call 382-4321, ext. 208.

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