Little serving as Interim Parks & Rec Director following suspension of Johnson and Huff

MONROE, Ga. – Walton County Board of Commission Chairman Kevin Little is serving as Interim Athletic Director for two weeks following the suspension Thursday of Parks and Recreation Director Jon ” Jody” Johnson and athletic department manager Brad Huff.

“I run the day-to-day operations of the county and they report to me. In their absence, I will serve as the Interim Parks and Recreation Director,” Little said, adding that he had already had a meeting with staff at the individual departments within Parks and Recreation to ensure everything continues to run smoothly.

Little confirmed that after an excutive session, the Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to terminate the services of Huff. However, there were not enough votes to do the same in the case of Johnson after Little chose not to vote on a three-way split.

“A third vote was taken to suspend Jody for 60 days and that also got three votes, making it a tie,” Little said. In that instance, Little said he did vote, breaking the tie to confirm the 60-day suspension for Johnson. “The County’s human resources protocal comes in after that, which is a 15-day suspension pending an appeal.”

While all six Walton County commissioners voted to terminate the services of Huff, only Commissioners Lee Bradford, Mark Banks and Bo Warren voted to terminate the services of Johnson. They were the three votes against the 60-day suspension for him.

Little said both Johnson and Huff now have the right to appeal the action taken by the BOC, the termination in the case of Huff and the suspension in the case of Johnson. Huff and Johnson will be on paid leave for the 15 days pending the appeal.

Attorney Greg K. Hecht of Hecht Walker, P.C. who is representing both Huff and Johnson, said they would wait to receive the action documents and review them before deciding on the next steps.

“Our firm and our clients were not notified of any action or meeting in which any actions related to Brad and Jody were going to take place. Neither we nor Brad or Jody have a copy of any adverse employment action, and they were not present to defend themselves or to present their side of what occurred,” Hecht said. “As a result,  we cannot respond to what has occurred, other than to say that Brad and Jody are upstanding citizens that care about this community very much.”

Little declined to make any comment about the motivation for the action citing privacy laws related to personnel matters.

A law suit filed by Huff and Johnson against five people following a 2016 FBI investigation into potential conflicts between JB Athletics, owned by Huff and Johnson, and their jobs at the Parks and Recreation Department, was dismissed in March of this year. The Walton County District Attorney’s Office chose not to file any charges against Huff and Johnson following the 2016 investigation, but the BOC did change rental policies related to the County ballfields. The RICO Civil charges against Walton County Commissioner Bradford in his personal capacity, James Robertson, Matthew Perkins, Crystal Carter and Monroe City Councilman Norman Garrett, also in his personal capacity, were dismissed on March 7, 2019 by Alcovy Circuit Superior Court Judge Samuel Ozburn.

There is no indication at this time that this week’s action by the BOC is in any way linked to this previous issue.

 

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