FROM THE JASPER NEWS…..

JASPER, Fla. — Months after City Clerk Jennifer Hightower alleged a hostile working environment against the former city manager Charles Williams, a complaint has been filed against her.

Patricia Herring, the billing clerk for the City of Jasper, alleges that she is being falsely accused of wrongdoing.

According to Herring’s complaint, written on June 26, the issue stems from questions pertaining to zoning.

Herring alleges that Hightower told Herring to mind her own business via a message from Herring’s supervisor, the Chief Financial Officer Margaret Harper.

The complaint states that Hightower allegedly accused Herring of telling her to just sign a zoning application and also accused Herring of telling Councilman LaBarfield Bryant to go to her office.

The complaint states “If things are calm and running smoothly, Jennifer is not happy.”

“I’d be scared to come to work with some of the stuff that’s going on,” Vice Mayor Gerald Lewis said.

The city currently is having an investigation conducted on Hightower’s complaint against the former city manager and city attorney Rhett Bullard advised the council to conduct another into the newest allegations.

“If you have an allegation of hostile work environment from an employee, you should have it investigated,” Bullard said. “That was my position before. It doesn’t change based on the people involved.”

“Do we really need to investigate every little thing,” Councilman William Mitchell asked. “If we are having people tell people ‘get out of my business at work,’ when it is not your business, then we should be able to handle that on our own and not get an outside investigation every time.”

He added Hightower’s allegation involved a weapon, which he felt warranted the investigation.

“If we have people that can’t work together, you either need to learn to grow up and work with each other or you need to go home,” Mitchell said.

Herring asked the board what, if anything were they going to do with her complaint.

“This is not a joke,” Herring said. “This is reality.”

Mitchell asked Hightower if the allegations were accurate?

“I don’t agree with it,” Hightower said.

Bullard warned the council that by asking the question, they were getting into the investigative portion of the complaint.

He said the council should follow the same protocol as before.

“So you wouldn’t recommend firing anybody tonight,” Lewis asked.

“I don’t know why you would,” Bullard replied.

The council agreed to allow Allen Norton & Blue, PA to investigate. That firm is already investigating the first complaint.

Bryant asked if Hightower and Herring would be able to work together since they were on separate sides of the office.

Mitchell suggested making the city clerk position a part-time position since Hightower was able to get all the work done when she was working alternate days following her allegation against Williams.

Bullard informed the council it was in their best interest to not adversely affect an employee’s pay or hours during an investigation.

Herring and Hightower are alternating work days until the investigation is complete.

Jessie R. Box is a reporter for the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press. Her beats include general assignment, government and police.

JOE’S COMMENTS. JUST KISS THE MONEY GOODBYE. I HOPE RHETT ENJOYS HIS POSITION AS AN INTERN FOR ALLEN, NORTON & BLUE. THE CITIZENS OF JASPER ARE CERTAINLY PAYING FOR IT. SHOULD OF HIRED SOMEONE WHO CAN WRITE OUT A PINK SLIP.