Board of aldermen doesn’t rehire park director

By Russell Hood

The Webster Progress-Times


The Eupora Board of Aldermen has voted to rehire all city employees except the park director.

The action came during a Sept. 26 special called meeting. All five board members signed the notice/agenda on Sept. 24 and 25 for the meeting, which the aldermen called for the purpose of personnel.

The board did vote to go into executive session to discuss personnel and stayed in the closed session about two hours and 45 minutes. Back in open session, Howard Rumore (Ward 2) made a motion not to rehire John Prather as park director effective Sept. 30. Jerry Gary (at-large) seconded the motion, which was approved unanimously.

Hugh Gibson (Ward 3), then made a motion to rehire all city employees except Prather, which Robert Gibbs (Ward 4) seconded. That motion was also approved 5-0 and the meeting was adjourned immediately afterwards.

The newly installed Board of Aldermen had voted at its first meeting on July 1 to rehire all city employees at their current rate of pay until the first regular board meeting in October. The motion stipulated that during this three-month period all employees would be evaluated to make sure no policy violations were made.

Prather has been bound over from Webster County Justice Court on felony charges of cyberstalking, grand larceny and simple assault/domestic, which his ex-wife filed against him. No preliminary hearings were conducted in any of the cases; a grand jury will determine if probable cause exists for indictment. The current grand jury will be recalled Dec. 10 and a new grand jury will be empaneled Jan. 13.

Prather had served as part-time park director since October 2009. Mayor Dan Burchfield said Tuesday that the board and he had verbally offered the job of interim park director to Beau Powell.

His proposed appointment until Dec. 31 is scheduled to be ratified at Monday’s regular board meeting. During the next three months, Burchfield said the city will be evaluating how it wants the park program to go forward.