By Lynda Jones
It was not on the agenda, but the issue of security at the Crockett Housing Authority was a hot topic at the CHA Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday, March 17. It came up during the "public comments" portion of the meeting and provoked the most discussion.
Catha Sandles, a CHA resident, first addressed the board about the need for street light repair in her neighborhood (Rose St.).
Maintenance Director Mark Stephenson responded he currently is attempting to rectify the issue.
Sandles opened the discussion about security services by asking the board if it plans to bring security services back to CHA neighborhoods. She expressed concern about youth that are prone to get into trouble when school is out for the summer.
Bob Luce and Mandy Nash, both former CHA security officers who allege they were illegally terminated by the previous CHA executive director, were present at the meeting and said they, too, were there to ask if they are going to be rehired.
Luce directly asked when are they coming back. He noted that, under the CHA by-laws, the CHA is required to carry at least one security officer.
"It was my impression we were supposed to go back to work four months ago," Luce said.
Nash presented the board with a document signed by residents who want the reinstatement of CHA security services.
She additionally told Board Chairman Bobby Bowlin that four individuals have told her that he has said the CHA is not planning to rehire Luce and Nash. Bowlin denied the allegation and asked for the names of those who spoke to her. Nash refused to disclose the name of her sources.
She further argued the board was in violation of the CHA by-laws for hiring a convicted felon to clean houses. Nash told the board that when the previous executive director ended the provision of CHA security services, she told the board at that time she would take any job at the CHA, including cleaning.
"I just want my job back," Nash said. "I know I'll do (a good) job."
Bowlin also said, "I told you I don't think the funds are there right now."
CHA Executive Director Kelly Stotts said, "Moneywise, it's tight right now." Stotts further said that, after years of neglect, it may take 20 years to get the CHA homes back to the quality they should be. After further discussion, Stotts told Nash she will look at the budget.
With regard to posted agenda items, the board unanimously voted to give CHA employees a 3% pay increase.
Stotts reported on the CHA's continued attempt to obtain waivers of Payment In Lieu Of Taxes from the City of Crockett, Houston County and the Crockett ISD. The CHA seeks to pay only 25% of what it owes for the past four years.
The board also unanimously approved the final draft of its new Drug-Free Workplace Policy, voted to write off "doubtful" accounts from January-March and voted to add Stotts as a signator on CHA bank accounts.
CHA Commissioner Pam Wells was absent from this meeting. The next regularly scheduled meeting will be Thursday, April 21, at 5:30 p.m. at the CHA administration building, 186 East Fannin Ave.