Macon County Chronicle

RBS Council Hires Officer Jeff Bilbrey; Certification Waiver Must be Granted

In lieu of Red Boiling Springs police officer Junior Fields’ resignation from the city police department, council members elected to hire officer Jeff Bilbrey during their regularly scheduled city council meeting on Thursday, January 8th.

Despite RBS Police Chief Terry Tuck’s recommendation to hire certified officer Matt Looper, the council voted to promote Bilbrey, who is not currently certified, in the event that he can obtain a waiver allowing him to begin work while regaining his certification.

Bilbrey, who worked as part-time police officer in Red Boiling Springs in 1994, was certified before changing careers to become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and must now regain his certification to return to police work due to the length of time that has lapsed.

In the event that Bilbrey cannot obtain the waiver from the Police Officer Standard Training (POST) Council to allow him to begin working while obtaining the needed certification requirements, he has offered to step down from the position, in which case the job would then be given to Looper.

Discussions about Bilbrey and Looper’s ability to “be a good fit” for the RBS Police Department arose before the 4-1 vote was cast to hire Bilbrey under those conditions.

“I think you need a local person, one that’s here, that knows all the people,” Mayor Kenneth Hollis said in support of hiring RBS resident Bilbrey. “When you hire people that don’t know the town people, a lot of times you get into trouble. If we can get him (Bilbrey) certified, then there’s not a problem. That’s my opinion.”

Council member Shelly Dean, the sole voter against hiring Bilbrey, voiced her support of Chief Tuck’s recommendation.

“In the past, the council has always acted on the recommendation of the department head and I think Chief is probably the best suited at this point to decide who he thinks would work for the job.”

Dean went on to make the motion to hire Looper, which failed for lack of a second.

“We’ve always gone with our department head, and it doesn’t say much about our faith in our Chief of police if we don’t trust his judgment on who he thinks will work best with him,” she told fellow council members.

Mayor Hollis replied by reiterating his belief that a local officer, who knows the city and its residents, would be a better asset to the police department.

“My opinion is that I know Jeff, and he knows the people. Junior wasn’t from here, and he didn’t stay long . . . he was here for less than a year.”

RBS Council member Ray Bilbrey, who is Jeff Bilbrey’s father, made the motion to hire his son, which was seconded by Bobby Etheridge under the condition that Looper take on the position, should the waiver not be granted.

Before making the motion, Ray Bilbrey stated that he had no ulterior motives in electing his son.

“Now everyone knows that he’s my son, but he doesn’t live with me and I receive no monetary gain if he gets the job. I just want to declare that so I can go on with the discussion and vote.”

The request for authorization to obtain his certification waiver will be made by Chief Tuck at the POST council’s next meeting. Once the request has been approved or denied Bilbrey, or Looper, will begin working.

Jeff Bilbrey was hired at the standard new-hire rate of $12.92/hr.

The second hot topic of the evening came about after council member Shelly Dean made the motion to increase the pay of the city mayor and city council members when the new administration takes over following the April 25th city election.

Dean suggested that the new city mayor receive $200 a week instead of the current weekly pay of $100, and city council members receive $50 a meeting and $30 per special called meeting in substitution of the existing rate of $25 a meeting.

While Dean noted that pay rates for the city mayor and council members have not been changed since the 1980’s and inflation rates have increased substantially, the motion failed due to lack of a second.

“I don’t do this for the money,” said council member Bobby Etheridge. “I just took this job to help the city . . . I’m against it.”

In other business:

•    Barge, Waggoner, Sumner & Cannon gained approval to advertise for bids pending state approval for the City BG project (tying into the Hudson Spring). WS&C is also proceeding in seeking out alternate sources of water and will possibly be presenting its findings at the council’s March meeting.

•    A donation of $500 was approved for the city library.

•    Ordinance #08-10, increasing Jackson County’s water rates 4.22 percent, was adopted on second and final reading.

•    Ordinance #08-12, increasing outside and commercial water rates, was adopted on second and final reading.

•    Ordinance #08-11, amending the 2008-2009 budget was adopted on second and final reading.

•    Fire Department: Josh Watson has finished his probationary period at the RBS Fire Department. Though he lives in Lafayette, he is employed in RBS and will be available during the day. Anytime Watson responds to a fire from Lafayette, he will be required to drive to RBS at a normal speed.

•    Sanitation Department: Options are being looked at to possibly expand city trash routes.