Main Street head, Canton part ways
by Erin Dentmon
edentmon@cherokeetribune.com
January 23, 2013 12:00 AM | 3111 views | 7 7 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — Canton Main Street Director Ginger Garrard is no longer employed by the city.

Mayor Gene Hobgood said he let Garrard go Friday and cited talked-about changes for the Main Street program and Garrard’s employment as his motivation.

The Canton City Council voted in recent weeks to strip Hobgood of the ability to hire staff members.

Hobgood said he had not received a direct order from the council to terminate Garrard’s employment, but the mayor’s office no longer had anything for her to do and the council had different plans for the city’s economic development.

Council members have previously said they planned to keep Garrard’s position but move the job under supervision from the city manager or hire an economic development director whose job would include supervising the Main Street program.

“When I no longer had the authority to hire anybody, I didn’t have to let anybody go that instant. With the circumstances and the plan for economic development, it was coming anyway. The council ... had already made plans to put the Main Street director under somebody else,” Hobgood said.

Hobgood claimed Garrard had also been “harassed” by at least one council member.

“That made her job very, very difficult as it was,” he said.

Hobgood said Garrard did “an absolutely excellent job” for the city.

“I don’t believe the city will be able to replace her at the salary she was making,” he said

Garrard was employed under Hobgood, though the Main Street program, including her salary, was budgeted as a separate line item. She took direction from Hobgood and from the Main Street board of directors.

Garrard had been a city employee for almost four years and spearheaded the effort to have Canton designated as a Main Street City.

Bill Grant, chairman of Canton Main Street’s board of directors, said the board had not been consulted when it came to Garrard’s employment status.

“I’m not sure of what our next steps are,” he said. “I’m really concerned that we may be in jeopardy of losing our designation as a Main Street City.”

Grant said having a full-time director is one of the primary requirements for a city to maintain an accredited Main Street program.

“I think it will be very hard to replace someone that dedicated and passionate,” Grant said. “We wouldn’t have had a program without her. She was on the front lines every day making things happen and working for downtown merchants to make them successful.”

He said it seemed Garrard’s position had been used as a “political bargaining chip.”

“To me, it’s a shame it had to come to this,” he said.

Whether to fill the position and how it will be supervised will now be up to the council, Hobgood said.

Patricia Fowler, Hobgood’s executive assistant, is still employed with the city.

The City Council voted to end funding for her position at the Jan. 17 council meeting, but Hobgood has 10 days from the time of the vote to sign the amendment or veto it.

Hobgood said Monday he is “still thinking about” whether to veto the amendment.

Garrard, reached Tuesday, declined to comment.

Comments
(7)
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lindasusie
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January 24, 2013
Will Canton still have the Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings? Ginger handled it and I know there are a LOT of vendors who still want the Market to continue...if anyone can steer me in the direction of who will be over-seeing this please let us know...

Thx.
Coucilof5
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January 23, 2013
We value your input but, we dont listen really.
MrsLloyd
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January 23, 2013
And that Garrard was being "harrassed" by a council member, which "made her job difficult." Why not get rid of the council member then? Seems a little backwards here.
Ed A
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January 23, 2013
Ask Bill Bryan
youngmom
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January 23, 2013
so the mayor fires an employee who he says was doing "an absolutely excellent job" and then tells us that she was underpaid. meanwhile his other employee who is grossly overpaid is riding around in her brand new mercedes while not doing much of anything - of any use to the city anyway (wink wink nudge nudge)and he is suing the city council for getting rid of her. what is wrong with this hobgood guy? does he really think we're that stupid???
anonymous
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January 23, 2013
@youngmom Hobgood is betting that we are all stupid enough to be fooled by his childish antics. In the last three elections we have elected the council members he endorsed in every election yet he can't seem to get along with anyone for long. It's obvious that he has not changed from the time he was the sole county commissioner and county manager.
Tea Light
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January 24, 2013
@youngmom, if you want to talk about "grossly overpaid" city employees, you should begin with the City Manager, Scott Wood, who makes almost $250,000 in salaries and benefits per year! He is one of the most highly paid City Managers in the state of Georgia! For instance, Griffin, GA has the same population as Canton, and their City Manger is paid around $75,000 per year. Scott Wood's salary includes a $1,000 a month car allowance for his two seat convertible sports car, six weeks paid vacation and a HUGE pension that will be fully vested soon. So while the Gang of Five councilmen talk about cutting staffing costs, they do not walk their talk when it comes to the City Manager. How about finding a competent City Manager for around $80,000 and use the savings to fund the new Economic Development position? Can anyone argue that our city is not being MANAGED effectively?
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