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Municipal clerk Wood resigns from court position

 

Carl Smith

 

Starkville Municipal Clerk Debra Wood resigned her position Friday after aldermen gave her the choice to resign for be fired, city officials confirmed Saturday. 

 

Starkville Personnel Director Randy Boyd said the job is one "that will have to be filled" by the city, alluding to a possible Nov. 5 agenda item executing a candidate search for the vacant position. 

 

Six aldermen met behind closed doors Thursday and discussed the personnel move for almost three hours. The board's motion was a unanimous 6-0 vote - Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver was absent from the meeting - but besides the ultimatum, the board did not delegate the position's job functions. 

 

Mississippi Code Annotated states "the clerk of the municipality shall be the clerk of the municipal court, unless the governing authorities shall otherwise elect." Because of the lack of clarity, it is not known if city clerk Taylor Adams or Starkville Municipal Court Administrator Tony Rook will take over Wood's job responsibilities. 

 

Code states the clerk attends court sessions, either in person or by an appointed deputy, and "shall be under the direction of the municipal judge." The city can authorize the judge to appoint other municipal employees, including police officers, as deputy clerks to assist with the job responsibilities. The city is also responsible for court personnel training, law states. 

 

Specific court clerk duties addressed by Mississippi Code include: keeping permanent dockets and minutes; "issue all process from the court, except arrest warrants or process for the seizure of persons and property;" and administer the collection of fines, penalties, fees and costs. In addition, persons charged with misdemeanors may be brought before the clerk for initial appearances when the judge is unavailable, Mississippi Code states. 

 

Adams' job functions have increased since former chief administrative officer Lynn Spruill was ousted from her position by the board in July. The board tasked Adams' with only one of Spruill's formal job functions - constructing meeting agendas - while the other position's functions went informally unassigned. 

 

The prior board of aldermen renamed the city clerk's position to "Director of Finance/City Clerk" and increased its salary from a grade 15 to grade 18 in May 2012. Former City Clerk Markeeta Outlaw, who served with the city for almost 30 years, retired on June 1. Spruill served as interim city clerk until the board hired Adams in July. 

 

The Dispatch learned Monday of an investigation into possible financial wrongdoing involving a municipal court employee, but the details of that inquiry were not released Thursday. Starkville Police officials previously said criminal charges were not expected to be filed against the city employee. 

 

City officials refused to comment on the board's action outside of the motion's wording.

 

Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch

 

 

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