2 workers fired after $3K theft

Two Hickory Public Services workers were fired and four more were suspended after more than $3,000 of materials was stolen from a city demolition site.

Hickory Public Works department took action against the six employees Monday after allegations of possible employee misconduct surfaced during the demolition of Ridgeview and George Ivey pools, according to a statement released from the city of Hickory.

Hickory Police Department said copper and other materials valued at $3,931.25 were stolen from the demolition sites and taken to scrap metal processor Mountain Recycling in Hickory.

No charges were filed in the incident as of press time Thursday, but Hickory Police Department completed an investigation into the crime and submitted its findings to the District Attorney's Office.

"Any time an incident of this type occurs, I must ensure the necessary measures are taken to maintain the public trust of our citizens," Hickory City Manager Mick Berry said in a prepared statement. "We have taken this situation very seriously and worked deliberately to gather all information before taking the appropriate actions. The city currently provides ethics training as part of supervisory training. In response to this situation, the city is requiring annual ethics training for all co-workers."

Robert Taylor, an equipment operator in the city's street division, and Doug Dupell, a maintenance supervisor in the city's street division, were dismissed Monday from their positions with the city of Hickory.

Taylor's notice of personnel action claims that he was dismissed for, "conduct unacceptable to the city with regard to the disposition of materials from the demolition of George Ivey and Ridgeview pools."

Taylor was employed with Hickory since June 30, 2008, according to Hickory public information officer Mandy Pitts.

Dupell was dismissed from his supervisor position because he "failed to appropriately supervise employees with regard to disposition of materials from the pool demolitions" and "deliberately and purposefully misinformed supervisors about the facts regarding the disposition of recycled materials from the demolition of pools." Pitts said Dupell was hired Dec. 28, 1998.

Four other employees were also suspended in the incident, including crewleader Marvin Speaks, heavy equipment operators Jonathan Holden and John Bowman and maintenance worker Lenward Ramseur.

Speaks, Holden and Bowman have 10-day suspensions, and Ramseur has a five-day suspension. The suspensions started Monday.

The city of Hickory declined to release any additional information about the investigation, citing state laws governing personnel records.

"This is an isolated incident that should not taint the great work done every day by our dedicated workers," Berry said.

A permanent employee who is suspended, demoted or dismissed has the right to appeal in accordance with the city of Hickory's grievance policy.