April 9, 2010 10:53:00 AM
Aberdeen has a permanent manager for its embattled electric department.
Jerry Ledbetter, former two-time Okolona electric department manager, was hired by the city council Thursday night by a 3-2 vote. He will take over at 7 a.m. Monday.
"They were all good candidates. We had some very good choices," said Ward 4 Alderman Randy Nichols of the four finalists. "It was kind of a hard to choose, but when we narrowed it down the difference was experience."
Ledbetter ran the Okolona electric department briefly in the early 1990s and again from 1996-2002.
Nichols voted for Ledbetter along with Ward 5 Alderman John Allen and Ward 3 Alderman David Ewing. Ward 1 Alderman Alonzo Sykes and Ward 2 Alderman Cloyd Garth voted against the motion.
Sykes and Garth did not answer calls seeking comment.
Nichols hopes Ledbetter''s hiring represents the end of the electric department''s problems. Former manager Adrian Garth was arrested in January on two counts of felony extortion. Mayor Jim Ballard has served as interim manager since Adrian Garth''s resignation.
Multiple individuals have been arrested in connection to a utilities theft scandal at the Aberdeen electric department. Customers have also complained of unjustly inflated bills. But the city claims the bigger bills are the result of longer billing cycles caused by a lack of meter readers.
The city has since contracted with a private firm to read the utility meters.
"We''ve had a lot of problems with bills. A lot of people are getting upset and, well, they should be," said Nichols. "Some people are living on really fixed incomes and my heart goes out to them, but you''ve got to pay your bills. I think this man will take care of business. We''re in good hands now."
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