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Commissioners mum about service director's dismissal

March 18, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Roy Davis paced the halls outside the Berkeley County Commission's meeting room Thursday, while his recent dismissal as the county's community service director was discussed in the room behind closed doors.

Davis was prohibited from attending the executive session, and was not given the chance to comment afterward during the "Items from the Public" portion of the commission's agenda.

"I'll go apply for unemployment tomorrow," Davis said after the meeting.

The commissioners took no action after the executive session and could not comment on what was discussed.

Having worked for the county for the past 10 years, including nine years with community service, Davis said he hopes to obtain another job with the county.

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He said he was upset that he was not allowed to be present during the executive session. "I come from Maryland and in Maryland you have rights," he said.

Davis, 57, was dismissed from his job last Friday by Berkeley County Sheriff Randy Smith, who oversees the community service program.

Davis said Smith gave him a list of several alleged infractions, but that no specifics were ever discussed. Among the charges were "contempt of court" and "supplanting the office of the sheriff," Davis said.

"I don't know what that means. You don't know what that means," he said.

Smith countered Thursday that he discussed the situation with Davis more than once.

Sgt. Russell Shackelford, who was appointed to take over the program, said Thursday that on Wednesday, community service participants picked up about 150 bags of trash along U.S. 11. They also have undertaken projects for Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation and the Boys & Girls Club.

Participants cleaned Magistrate Court and the sheriff's department building "from top to bottom," Shackelford said.

In 11 days, 450 hours of community service were performed, with 27 people taking part in the past three weeks, he said.

Those participating in the program perform community service rather than serving time in jail. Along with picking up trash, they help during special events such as Martinsburg's annual Norwalk Soap Box Derby, the used book sale at Berkeley Senior Services and numerous others.

Before the executive session began, County Commissioner Howard Strauss gave reporters copies of four letters written in support of Davis and the community service program.

The letters, all dated in 2003, came from different organizations.

A member of the Eastern Panhandle Youth Football League Association Inc., wrote to thank Davis and his workers for painting a new storage building at Poor House Farm Park.

The director of Telemon Inc. thanked Davis for having a master electrician fix several existing problems and repair others that he discovered at the site of Rampage, a club for middle school and high school students.

The director of the Martinsburg Roundhouse Complex said Davis and others with the program helped to move and set up chairs and tables for the annual Rail Days celebration.

Asked whether he would support Davis' pursuit of another county job, Strauss declined to comment directly. He said that Davis has dedicated himself to the county for the past decade, and played a pivotal role in expanding the community service program.

"Can he come back? That would be a commission decision," Strauss said.

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