Commissioners taking wait and see approach on county clerk issue

By Vanessa Kahin

STAFF WRITER

vkahin@cnjonline.com

Several county officials expressed uncertainty about the future of the leadership in the county clerk’s office now that County Clerk Rosalie Riley has been stripped of some of her duties.

The Curry County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to take over some of Riley’s duties, including overseeing records and filing as well as personnel matters such as hiring, firing and reprimanding employees.

Commissioner Wendell Bostwick was absent during the meeting Tuesday.

Riley said Wednesday that she had retained legal counsel and declined to comment on the situation.

She did not give the name of her attorney.

County Attorney Steve Doerr did not return several phone calls.

The commission decided County Manager Lance Pyle will oversee those aspects of the clerk’s office that had been stripped away from Riley.

“That was the direction of the commission,” Pyle said. “I work for the county commission. Whatever the county commission instructs me to do, I will comply with their directive.”

The next step, Pyle said, will be to bring in a temporary employee with recording experience to “train the employees and review the documents that have been (filed).”

Commissioner Tim Ashley called the decision to have Pyle fill in Riley’s duties as “the proper move.

“There has been a history of recording errors and those problems have not been resolved yet,” Ashley said. “It’s an important issue to be resolved.”

Ashley did not know if and when Riley would be given back full duties as county clerk.

“The whole process … will be evaluated as we move forward,” he said. “I certainly hope we can reach a point in time when we resolve those issues.”

Likewise, Commissioner Ben McDaniel said the commission will have to wait and see how events in the clerk’s office unfold to see if and when Riley will be reinstated to her full duties as county clerk.

“There’s no reason to say she couldn’t (be fully reinstated),” McDaniel said, adding the commission did what they felt “was needed at the time.”

County commissioners met during an executive session after a regular commission meeting Tuesday to discuss alleged issues at the county clerk’s office.

Pyle said the action taken was about ensuring the clerk’s office employees could fulfill their tasks.

“The county has great employees,” Pyle said. “We just have to give them the resources, tools and training to be able to do their job.”