John Culpepper

John Culpepper has resigned as chairman of Walker County's Water & Sewer Authority Board, said Shannon Whitfield, the county's new commissioner.

Culpepper turned in his resignation in person Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 4, at the Commissioner's Office in LaFayette, Whitfield said.

Whitfield said Culpepper had already indicated he would step down at the next water board meeting, which is Thursday, Jan. 5.

"That (Culpepper's resignation) will give me the opportunity to appoint myself to that board, and that will also give me the option to either be a board member and/or the chairman. That's my interpretation of the spirit of the Enabling Act of 1977, which created the Walker County Water & Sewer Authority -- for the sole commissioner of Walker County to be a part of that board," Whitfield said.

Whitfield, who took office Jan. 1, said that former County Commissioner Bebe Heiskell's recent appointments to the board essentially blocked him from being on that board.

Whitfield recently asked the court for an injunction to stop Heiskell from appointing three new board members to the Walker County Water & Sewer Authority. His efforts were unsuccessful in stopping Heiskell from making the appointments on her next-to-last day in office, he said.

Heiskell, during her 3 p.m. commissioner meeting in LaFayette on Thursday, Dec. 29, appointed "longtime supporters" Bill Cooke, Michael Haney and Annette North to the Water Authority board, Whitfield said.

Whitfield alleges this gave Heiskell the needed votes to create the scheme for a pathway to be employed at the Water Authority in a newly created public relations position. These board appointments blocked him from having the opportunity of serving on the Water Authority Board until the next term expires, in this case being Culpepper on May 31, 2017, Whitfield said.

Josh O'Bryant is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He can be reached at the Walker County Messenger office at 706-638-1859 and by email at jobryant@npco.com.