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Email: patrick.graham@waltontribune.com

Patrick Graham is the owner of The Walton Tribune, The Covington News, The Sand Mountain Reporter (Albertville, Alabama), Times-Journal (Fort Payne, Alabama) and Jackson County Sentinel (Scottsboro, Alabama). He is a graduate of the University of Alabama.

Graham: This is going to be tough for everyone involved

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Posted: Saturday, May 18, 2019 12:00 am

Wow. I thought my world had been turned upside down lately.

Then I saw the news about Brad Huff and Jody Johnson, the embattled leaders of the county’s Parks and Recreation Department.

On Wednesday, the county Board of Commissioners first voted to terminate Huff and then voted to suspend Johnson for 60 days without pay, but only after a motion to terminate Johnson failed due to a tie vote.

Both are suspended 15 days with pay while the county notifies them of the commission’s actions.

The two have been at the center of an ongoing controversy for years as members of the community and some county officials took exception with the pair operating a company that recruits and runs youth sports tournaments on fields and facilities they are responsible for in their capacity with the county.

The arrangement was, for many years, blessed by county officials who believed the tax dollars generated by tournament participants made the situation a win-win, but the county voted in 2016 to end the practice after louder than normal complaints from members of the community.

Since that vote, Huff and Johnson have been investigated by the district attorney’s office and cleared of any criminal or illegal activity. They later filed a lawsuit against those they believe tried to make them look like criminals, thus harming their reputation and their business, but the lawsuit was eventually dismissed by the courts.

And now this.

There was no indication from commission members Wednesday as to what new evidence relative to Huff and Johnson caused the majority of them to take this “adverse action” relative to Huff’s and Johnson’s employment with the county.

But it stands to reason something new has developed or we wouldn’t be here. There is a whole lot of other water under this bridge, and there wasn’t a move to remove the pair in the past.

The question is whether or not we will know what this new development is, again assuming there is one, given this is going to be a pretty touchy personnel matter, and one the county is clearly trying to make sure it handles in a way to eliminate the potential of additional litigation from Huff and Johnson.

That’s why all the I’s are being dotted and T’s are being crossed by the county on this one.

This is going to be tough on all involved.

Frankly, it already is.

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