LINCOLN COUNTY, Tenn. – The City of Fayetteville fired their HR Coordinator after she sent an email to the city alderman council about ethical concerns in the city administrators’ office. This comes after residents and business owners reached out to News 19 about their own concerns relating to the same office.
While it’s not clear if the email itself lead to the firing, Shelia Childress who held the HR position for a year, says several internal issues have been going unsettled because City Administrator, Scott Collins refuses to face them. Childress also says Collins often times declined to accept HR feedback or protocol. Childress has been doing HR for over 30 years.
“I didn’t spend the last 30-years of my life gaining knowledge of federal, state and local law to be attacked in what I know is right,” said Childress.
In the email Childress sent the alderman board, she also expressed concern that employees outside of an “inner circle” were bullied and belittled by Collins. The city administrator declined to comment on these allegations but welcomed people to come to his office if they have concerns.
“The City of Fayetteville needs to get their act together. Their inner politics keeps them from actually protecting the citizens of this community,” said Michael Farrar, a local businessman who spoke to NEWS 19 about Collins a few months ago.
Childress says Collins had a review last year that highlighted a need to improve his personnel management abilities. Childress alleges Collins was put on a 6-month plan before a review but declined help from HR.
“When that performance evaluation was conducted, he scored lower,” said Childress.
Collins was fired from The City of Newport in 2013 but later sued for wrongful termination and was issued $35,000 in a settlement.
Previously, Fayetteville residents expressed concern about two open city jobs that were unfilled for months. The jobs were for building inspector and fire chief. A few residents openly questioned Collins and his ability to hire. The inspector job was filled early in 2021 after a News 19 story.
The issues surrounding the fire chief position are more complex. After less than a year on the job, Jim Baldwin was terminated by Collins in 2019. Baldwin told the Elk Valley Times that he was not given a reason for his firing. Baldwin’s predecessor, Coby Moon resigned in 2019 after being suspended by Collins.
Ever since, the Fayetteville Police Department has managed the fire department.
“There are people with qualifications, but they don’t want to apply because they don’t want to come here because it’s an 11-29 sentence,” said Childress who is referring to the probationary period that applies to first responders. Childress means people are not confident they can last longer than the previous two chiefs who were either fired or resigned under Collin’s management.
Residents, businesses along with current and former employees of Fayetteville have used the term “Good Ol’ Boys” when referring to elements of their local government.