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Brooksville public works director put on paid leave

BROOKSVILLE — Emory Pierce, the public works director for Brooksville, has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into "a couple of situations," City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha said Wednesday.

Norman-Vacha declined to comment on the cause or scope of the investigation but said she expected to finish the probe within a few days.

"We have it all under review right now," Norman-Vacha said. "I really don't want to say anything else until we've completed the investigation."

Reached at his Brooksville home Tuesday evening, Pierce declined comment.

Pierce has been replaced on an interim basis by Richard Radacky, a former Hernando County administrator who came out of retirement at Norman-Vacha's request. Radacky, who started this week, said he and Norman-Vacha have not yet discussed a specific role or a salary.

"I'm just helping them out with some projects," said Radacky, who answered the phone extension at Pierce's desk Wednesday. "I'll be doing a little bit of everything. I'm sure they'll take care of me."

Mayor Joe Bernardini said Norman-Vacha told him about the move Monday. He said he couldn't go into any detail about Pierce's suspension until the investigation was complete.

"I'd like to see all the facts first," Bernardini said, noting the council "has absolutely no control over personnel issues."

Before coming to Brooksville in 1996, Pierce had overseen sewage plants in jobs with other public agencies and once worked with a private firm in Jacksonville in the mid 1980s. Before receiving his engineering degree from the University of Florida in 1983, he worked as a water plant operator for the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority.

Pierce also has been a commercial fisherman, a welder and a heavy-equipment mechanic. He held most of those jobs after he received a bachelor's degree in finance, also from UF, in 1971.

In his most recent performance evaluation — completed May 7 — Pierce received high marks in job knowledge, reliability, initiative and adherence to policy and department rules, among other areas. But Norman-Vacha noted Pierce needed to make improvements in his quality of work, saying that "little effort has been taken to move the department and its functions 'to the next level."

Joel Anderson can be reached at joelanderson@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6120.

Brooksville public works director put on paid leave 08/05/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 5, 2009 7:16pm]
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