by Ron Gregory
MADISON — The Boone County Commission has rescinded their earlier resolution placing longtime Assessor’s Office employee Susan Baisden back in that position.
Baisden, who until recently served as Chief Deputy Assessor, was a candidate for Assessor in the May 2016 Democrat primary. She lost to new Assessor Scotty Cook, who assumed office January 1. Their match-up was set when former Assessor Jennings Miller opted to run for Sheriff, a position he had previously held.
Cook apparently intended to terminate Baisden as soon as he assumed office, although there is some dispute as to the exact timing. Regardless, a majority of the Commission, voted to reinstate Baisden. Commissioners Eddie Hendricks and Craig Bratcher voted for her reinstatement. Commissioner Mickey Brown was not present for that meeting.
When Baisden attempted to return to her job, she said, she was given no work to do. Eventually, Cook told her not to return to the office and that she was not being paid. Cook requested to appear on the February 21 Commission agenda. Baisden was also present in the meeting room Tuesday morning.
With little discussion, the Commission voted, 2-1, to rescind their placement of Baisden in the Assessor’s office, citing West Virginia Code 7-7-7. Hendricks voted against the motion. Then the Commissioners accepted Cook’s decision on Baisden’s Level 3 grievance.
While Baisden did not want to comment following the vote, friends have indicated she has obtained legal counsel to institute proceedings in the matter. Friends of Baisden call Cook’s firing of her “partisan politics” and maintain political firings are against the law.
Brown had said earlier that counsel had told the Commission that he did not have the power to hire an employee in another elected official’s office. “We have to follow the law,” he said.
Other routine business was conducted without controversy. Larry Greene discussed the regional jail bill, reporting it was $45,885 with a $144 addition for a prisoner who was initially jointly held by Raleigh and Logan counties. When Raleigh released the prisoner, he remained in jail on Logan charges, thus necessitating the adjustment, Greene said.
Kris Mitchell was rebuffed in her request for funding for the Coal Festival. The Community Development Director asked to consider the funding but Hendricks responded that the Commission “has no money budgeted for that and we will continue to provide our in-kind contribution.”
Circuit Clerk Sue Ann Zickefoose, Cook and Roger Toney, the County Clerk, requested approval to attend the West Virginia Association of Counties annual training session. Commissioner unanimously approved.
Four bids were received and opened for purchasing a steam boiler system. The low bidder appeared to be Cimco Inc. at $53,883. BSO Mechanical bid $62,256; West Virginia Heating and Plumbing, $88,500; and Casto Technical Services, $104,100. The Commission agreed to review the bids for compliance with their request. Hendricks said the bid will be awarded at the next meeting.