Tribune-Courier General Manager
Issues surrounding former dog catcher Goldenrod Kirk once again made their way onto the agenda of the Marshall County Fiscal Court last week when Commissioner Terry Anderson questioned the accuracy of an article printed in The Lake News nearly a month ago.
In addressing the court, Anderson expressed anger over the March 26 article written by publisher Loyd Ford which suggested actions taken surrounding Kirk’s dismissal could be grounds for an age discrimination lawsuit.
Ford’s article stated, “There were claims and counter-claims about whether or not he was able to perform his job. Kirk is in his eighties, however, reduction in pay and changes in work assignment can apparently be grounds to receive unemployment compensation. Those same steps against an older person can be grounds for age discrimination suit.”
“I maintain to God and everybody else I did not vote to cut Mr. Kirk’s pay, would not vote to cut Mr. Kirk’s pay and never did and I contest that article completely,” said Anderson. “I don’t want to lose my farm for an age discrimination suit for a vote I did not make. I want that cleared.”
Ford had been in the meeting of the fiscal court last week, but had left prior to the discussion surrounding the article.
Anderson, who is seeking a third term as district 2 commissioner, said he has been questioned by the community about his role in the actions that led to Kirk’s departure from employment of over 30 years with the county. He insisted neither he nor any member of the court voted to reduce Kirk’s pay or change his duties when two animal control officers were hired in early 2013.
“You’re saying that I was not asked to tell Mr. Kirk that we were cutting his pay from $2,000 to $1,000?” Marshall County Judge Executive Mike Miller asked.
Commissioner Misti Drew, who last year brought accusations of wrongdoing against Miller for his role in the payment of unemployment benefits to Kirk said, “All three of us said we wanted to do what was best for Golden.”
Anderson repeatedly insisted that in discussing the issue in a closed session meeting held sometime prior to Kirk’s departure from his position, that it was the consensus of court members that Kirk not be “harmed” in any way.
“I went to Mr. Kirk to tell him that he could be a ride-along or supervisor and we would pay him $1,000 a month. That’s a cut in pay whether you want to say it is or not,” Miller told Anderson.
“But this court didn’t do that,” Anderson said. “We all said in that room that day that we would keep him in his current position at $2,000 a month even though he wasn’t able to do it. Still to this day, I do not know why Kirk left his employment,” adding the court never received any report as to whether or not Kirk wanted to continue in his role.
Miller, however, said he handled the Kirk matter the way he was asked to in the executive session meeting.
“There are a whole lot of things that go into an age discrimination case. You would have heard from me a long time ago if it was a concern. I don’t know what they (The Lake News) are basing this on,” said Marshall County Attorney Jeff Edwards.
The article appeared on the paper’s front page, but no source was cited for the potential of a discrimination lawsuit.
Miller was cleared of criminal charges in the Kirk matter in March when a Marshall County grand jury determined there wasn’t enough evidence for an indictment.