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Jefferson Co. Parks and Recreation Commission director fired

Lauren Thurston, current operations manager, to take on role after Barr's firing

August 12, 2010|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- Lauren Thurston, operations manager for the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Commission was named acting director of the agency this week following the firing of director Timothy C. Barr.

Barr, who has headed the agency since the mid-1990s, was terminated on a 6-2 vote Tuesday night by the commission's board of directors, according to board president Paul Marshall.

The action followed an executive session attended by eight of the board's 11 members, Marshall said.

Suspended with pay at the same session was Jennifer Myers, assistant director, according to draft minutes of Tuesday's meeting prepared by member Toni Milbourne.

Neither Barr nor Myers could be reached for comment Thursday.

The motion to fire Barr was made by board member Jimmy Pierson. It was seconded by board member Bobby Shirley, according to the minutes.

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The members discussed putting Barr on paid suspension until he could be present to address their concerns, according to the minutes.

"Consensus of the group was that there was no longer confidence in the ability of Barr to complete his duties as director," the minutes said.

Voting to terminate Barr were Pierson, Shirley, Marshall, Milbourne, George Nichols and Heather Morgan. Opposed were Bill Hoak and Lou Tiano, according to the minutes.

Board members who were absent were Dan McVicar, Gene Taylor and Mike Jacobs. County Commissioner Dale Manuel, who represents the county commission on the parks and recreation board as a nonvoting member, was at the meeting. Stephanie Grove, an assistant prosecuting attorney for Jefferson County, was also present.

Manuel declined to comment on Barr's firing Thursday.

"I can't," he said. "It was an executive session."

The board members, in a unanimous vote, supported a motion by Shirley to ask the West Virginia State Police to begin an investigation into the agency "to investigate forgery of check," the minutes said.

Thurston "provided (JCPRC) commissioners with a packet of blank checks signed by Barr," the minutes said.

The members also voted, unanimously, to suspend Myers with pay "until the completion of the state police investigation or until the board would deem otherwise," the minutes said.

Myers is on maternity leave.

Barr and Myers were to be notified that they were to have "no access to JCPRC business," the minutes said.

According to Manuel, Barr was paid "approximately $60,000 a year, Myers about $40,000."

Marshall said the board will meet Wednesday to discuss revising the agency's organizational structure, finding a permanent replacement for Barr and Thurston's pay status as acting director.

Thurston, the agency's third full-time employee, is an hourly employee.

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