ERWIN — Town of Erwin Street Department Supervisor Carroll Mumpower was fired Dec. 7 for continued policy violations and insubordination, according to documents in his personnel file.
Town Recorder Randy Trivette said Tuesday that Mumpower’s termination was due to a policy violation, but declined to comment further.
According to Mumpower’s termination notice written by Trivette and filed in Mumpower’s personnel file, in September Mumpower had requested the use of inmates to help with weed-eating along Interstate 26. Trivette states in the letter that he agreed to the use of inmates specifically for this purpose and had directed Mumpower not to have the work- release inmates at the public works garage. Mumpower disobeyed this directive, Trivette’s letter states.
“I specifically told you not to allow the inmates at the public works garage, however you made a very poor decision to allow them to not only be in the garage but to provide mechanical work to the city’s police cruisers in the shop for maintenance,” Trivette’s letter states.
Trivette’s letter further states that Mumpower allowed an inmate to travel to Johnson City to purchase parts needed for the cars and took an inmate home to pick up a welder.
“This violation of directives led to a police investigation for an inmate obtaining illegal narcotics while released in your custody in the parking lot of the city public works garage,” the letter states.
Trivette also states in his letter that when questioned about the situation, Mumpower was “less than truthful” with his responses, and that Mumpower did not mention that the inmate had traveled to Johnson City and that he had taken an inmate to his home. Trivette states in the letter that he learned of these items from a police investigation.
“This flagrant act of insubordination, poor decision making, untruthfulness and your past history of incidents requiring counseling, written reprimand and suspension from duty leave me no choice but to terminate your employment,” the letter states. “I have seen no change or improvement in your pattern regarding the performance of your duties from previous disciplinary actions and have no reason to doubt these actions would continue.”
According to documents in his personnel file, Mumpower received a written reprimand in May 2006 for policy violations and received a three-day suspension in October 2010.
In a Dec. 6 letter to Trivette from Town Attorney Thomas J. Seeley III, Seeley recommended Mumpower’s firing. In his letter, Seeley wrote that Mumpower had been involved in two incidents in the past six months that could have exposed the town to liability. The first involved town employees entering a resident’s property to clean up junk and debris to bring the property into compliance with the town’s zoning ordinances.
Seeley states at some point, some property the property owner claimed to be valuable was taken. Seeley said after the property owner contacted the Erwin Police Department, Mumpower arranged for another individual to return the property.
“When employees of the town enter a citizen’s property to remove junk or any other items, there is potential for the town to be responsible for damage done to the property or responsible for items removed from the property,” Seeley’s letter states.
The second incident Seeley cites is the one involving the inmates at the Public Works Garage.
Seeley and Trivette met with Mumpower for a disciplinary hearing Dec. 7. On that same date, Mumpower was issued a termination notice. He was also given one week to turn in all equipment and uniforms belonging to the city.
When reached for comment, Mumpower provided a written statement.
“It has been a privilege to serve the citizens of the town of Erwin for the past 26½ years,” Mumpower’s statement said. “Although I do not agree with the statements made in the letter of termination, I will refrain from further comment at this time until I weigh all my further options.”
Mumpower also added that the inmate who was alleged to have received narcotics while at the public works garage did so from a family member who brought the narcotics to the inmate while the crew was on its lunch break.
“It was out of my control,” Mumpower said.