Council decides on disciplinary action for fire chief

Lenny Nesbitt

On Monday night, the City Council moved to suspend Calhoun Fire Chief Lenny Nesbitt for 30 days without pay following an investigation into his arrest. On Nov. 10, Nesbitt was arrested by the Georgia State Patrol in Fannin County on charges of DUI and failure to maintain a lane.

The charges against Nesbitt were resolved by the Blue Ridge City Court on Dec. 10 without a conviction, according to a December news release from the city. City Administrator Eddie Peterson put Nesbitt on administrative leave indefinitely on Dec. 20 following the discovery of his arrest.

The investigation was conducted by the Calhoun Police Department and reported to the city. City Attorney George Govignon said the CPD report details will be released to the public soon but did not state a specific date.

The suspension for Nesbitt begins immediately. At the end of the 30-day suspension, he will return to work, but will be on a six-month probation period, as was determined by the council on Monday following an executive session.

According to Ryan Powell, the deputy executive director of the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, Nesbitt did not report his arrest to the regulatory body for peace officers within the required 15 days of the incident taking place. Normally POST does not deal with fire departments, but Nesbitt's case is different, since he was officially a peace officer, he explained.

Four days after his arrest, Nesbitt notified POST he was choosing to give up his certification as a police officer.

Nesbitt has not responded to repeated requests for comment

regarding his arrest and the disciplinary action decided upon by the City Council.

Also at Monday's council meeting, members renominated George Crowley to serve as the Mayor Pro-Tem for 2019. The Fiscal Year 2018 financial audit was approved as well as the budget calendar for the Fiscal Year 2019-2020. The 2018 audit, presented by Assistant City Administrator Paul Worley, reported that 2018 was a successful year for the city both operationally and financially.

Worley also reported that the city was able to write off the remaining debt of the Fields Ferry Golf Club, saying that the city golf course is now in a net positive position for the first time in over 10 years.

Mayor Jimmy Palmer reminded the council that 2019 was an election year for Calhoun, with the mayor seat, two city council posts and two school board posts up for election. The council approved qualifying fees for each of these positions — $432 to run for mayor, $252 to run for city council (posts one and two) and $1 to run for the city board of education (posts four and five).

The council also approved for the Wall Street Grille (doing business as Southern Roads Cafe), Calhoun Drug Company and Fred's Stores of Tennessee to extend their liquor renewal requests.