Hiring the Mayor, a Taking Action Investigation

Taking Action

Al Whitaker tests a faulty railing

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FACKLER, Ala. - A woman hired what she thought was a contractor to remodel her home. Now she's left with a house that's unlivable. But there's a twist. The man hired for the job is a mayor here in the Tennessee Valley.

It's one of the most common complaints we hear. You hire someone to do work on your home and they leave the place in worse shape than they found it. But this time even we were a little surprised.

Wanda Smith was a critical cardiac care nurse until a broken hip put her in the hospital, and then in rehab for several months. She would have liked to have gone home to recover, but she can't.

“I hired a contractor to come out and do some remodeling work for me, at $50 an hour,” Wanda explained.

A decision she deeply regrets.

“I paid him a total of $12,000. I furnished all of the materials,” Wanda says.

That was in October of last year. Today, the kitchen island isn't fastened down. Vinyl flooring was laid in the dining room but not secured, and there are gaps in the sub floor. A bathroom light fixture is barely attached.

“It's just a mess, my house is really just a mess,” Wanda says.

There's dozens of examples of shoddy workmanship, like the new deadbolt lock on this door. It doesn't latch. Or the new railing on the front porch. You wouldn't want to lean against this.

Wanda says, “He told me that he's a contractor and that he could do anything I needed him to do."

His name is Jerry Adkins, and we didn't have any trouble finding him. He's the mayor of Hollywood, Alabama.

There was no formal contract detailing the scope of the work. Just conversations, hand written notes, the receipts from all the materials purchased and the cashed checks she paid him.

We asked Adkins if he planned to ever finish the job.

“Yeah, I’ve talked to her and told her as soon as she got out of rehab I’d come up there and fix it,” Adkins told us.

Wanda says, “He told me that he was finished. And I said finished? And he said yes."

And that made us curious. We asked Adkins if he has a contractor’s license. He told us yes, he does.

Well, no he doesn't. We checked with the Alabama Home Builders Licensure Board in Montgomery. They sent us a sworn affidavit saying he does not have a contractor's license and he's never had one. State law requires remodeling projects over $10,000 to be done by a certified and properly licensed contractor.

Mrs. Smith says she's not the first person to have hired the mayor and hopes others who have had similar problems will come forward.

“I hope everyone will come forth and speak up, you know, to stop this because what he's doing, it's not right, it's just not right,” Wanda says.

She has now filed a formal complaint with the HBLB. They tell us an investigator is being assigned to the case. They also tell us Mrs. Smith isn't the only one who has had this problem with hiring the mayor.

We promised Mrs. Smith we would see this through to it's conclusion, and we will. It will be up to the state now to determine what, if any, legal actions will be taken. We’ll let you know what happens.