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Employee reprimanded for using county vehicle
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A longtime Dawson employee has been reprimanded and suspended without pay for one day after he admitted to using his county-owned vehicle to haul firewood to his home last week.

"The policy that we quoted as a basis for his reprimand was no employee shall take any county-owned vehicle, county supplies or equipment or county-paid manpower for personal use," said County Manager Cindy Campbell.

Maintenance and facilities supervisor James Tolbert used the truck to take wood from a dead tree, which had fallen across a road and had to be removed, to his home.

"That's why he got reprimanded. He has been disciplined. He got a written reprimand that goes in his personnel file, outlining what happened, and one day without pay," Campbell said.

She added that the wood should have been used in the sheriff's firewood program for senior citizens.

The suspension came after a local resident reportedly saw Tolbert hauling the wood in a county truck to his home.

"When he was asked about it, he immediately said he did it, he should have known better and he'd bring the wood back," Campbell said.

As an on-call employee, Tolbert is allowed to take the vehicle home.

"He is eligible because he's on call 24/7," Campbell said. "Anytime there's a problem with any of our facilities, no matter what time of day it is, he comes on to handle that problem. Then he's using that vehicle all day long to go between facilities and haul supplies, equipment, those kind of things."

The policy limits personal stops in the county vehicle to those which would otherwise cause a hardship on the individual if he or she had to first obtain their private automobile. That could include errands during lunch or breaks, visits to the bank, grocery or convenience stores and medical appointments.

"As long as it's not outside your normal path to and from work, the employee is allowed to use the vehicle," Campbell said.

Aside from the incident, Tolbert has "been a great employee," Campbell said.

"He's been employed here since 1993. He's on top of things. He's always been a good employee. It's just a lapse in judgment, I think, on his part," she said.