By Will Johnson
ELKHART – In part one of this article, the termination of Elkhart’s Public Works Supervisor BJ Perry was discussed as well as the suspension of ordinances. Perry had a contract in place that provided for a $100,000 severance package in the event of his termination for anything other than a felony and for failing to keep his licenses up-to-date.
Part two will address some past transgressions of current city council members which may have possibly led to recent actions.
Perry explained before he became the public works supervisor for the city of Elkhart, he worked as an employee for the city of Elkhart under then public works supervisor Gregg Lewis.
Lewis was the recipient of a water line from the city of Elkhart at no cost, Perry alleged. The city governance, at that time, was partially comprised of Raymond Dunlap serving as the mayor, Randy McCoy as the mayor pro tem and Lucia Butler as a council member.
When a lucrative opportunity presented itself, Perry took advantage of it and submitted his resignation letter. The document expressed his appreciation to the city of Elkhart for the opportunity in the public works department but it also revealed some less than flattering things about past council members that happened while he was employed the first time.
The resignation letter, delivered to the council in April of 2016, reads in part, “I took a blow on the chin when former Mayor Raymond Dunlap had me remove signs that belonged to Elkhart Oaks Nursing Home and had me call the State Fire Marshal to investigate their facility in retaliation for his termination from employment there. I also had Council member Lucia Butler ask me how we could get Council member Billy Jack Wright for his gate across Watkins St. Council member Errol Tatum called the employees rats for turning in Gregg Lewis for his illegal water line and Council member Randy McCoy yelled at me behind closed doors during a private meeting over a formal complaint that I had filed on Mr. Lewis. The leaders of the city have been less than leaders at times and the stability of our jobs was always questioned.”
Perry returned to the city of Elkhart in 2017 and once again worked as the Public Works Supervisor until he was terminated in August of this year.
It should be noted, the current mayor is now Jennifer McCoy (wife of former Mayor Pro Tem Randy McCoy). The mayor pro tem is now Raymond Dunlap and Lucia Butler has returned as a council member. None of the three held an elected office when Perry returned to work for the city.
Asked specifically about the water line, Perry recalled “… it was 800 feet of two-inch pipe and a few cast iron 90s in it where it bends for reinforcement with a flush valve at the end. It was odd during the 2012 or 2013 summer when it a really dry year, Google Earth took a picture of his garden and it was really nice and green but the rest of the pasture was dry as a bone. The flush hydrant was left on all the time.”
“After he (Lewis) resigned, they attempted to prosecute him for that. It was no-billed. TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) got involved with it and we asked if we could kill it if he doesn’t pay for it. The city opted to kill the line, take out the meter and flush hydrant where it was completely disabled. It was kind of a shady deal,” he said.
Perry explained after he was terminated from his role as the public works supervisor, he was blamed for several issues involving the city’s drinking water and wastewater. He also indicated Lewis had been rehired as a consultant by the city and had taken several pictures by the wastewater plant as discussed in the previous article.
“Why would they hire this guy back after all of those things? Again, I think it was a personal thing. If he was the one who took the pictures at the wastewater plant, it would make since as to why it was such a big atrocity. There’s also a grudge there. I was the one who took his place when he left. I do feel like this is personal,” Perry said.
As to what Perry would like to see happen concerning his contract, Perry replied he would “… like to see them honor the contract and own their mistakes on mine and Mrs. Sheridan’s case. I didn’t commit a felony and I kept up my licenses.”
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.