VERNON — With practically no discussion by the members, the Vernon City Council voted on Monday, June 24, to hire Chipley attorney Michelle Blankenship Tagert as the new city attorney.


VERNON — With practically no discussion by the members, the Vernon City Council voted on Monday, June 24, to hire Chipley attorney Michelle Blankenship Tagert as the new city attorney.



Tagert wasn’t the first person nominated for the job, however.



Councilman Tray Hawkins made a motion that the city reinstate former city attorney Kerry Adkison, but the motion died for a lack of a second.



Chairwoman Tina Sloan said Adkison had sent an email to the council asking to be reconsidered for the position of city attorney.



At the June 17 city council workshop, Panama City attorney Charles J. Stafford and Tagert both submitted proposals for service to the city of Vernon, and both attorneys made presentations to the council.



Tagert offered to serve the city for a $500 monthly retainer, which would include attendance at two meetings and two hours of legal service per month. Services beyond the two hours would be billed at $150 per hour.



Stafford offered to attend two meetings a month for a $500 monthly retainer, and would bill the city at $200 per hour for legal services. Travel expenses were negotiable, Stafford said.



After the motion to rehire Adkison died, Councilman Joey Brock made the motion to hire Tagert. Only Hawkins voted against hiring the Chipley attorney.



Resident Bill Dobbins asked the council to reconsider their decision. “I think the city is making a huge mistake,” Dobbins said.



 “I’m sure you hired a good attorney, and Mr. Stafford would be a good attorney too, but Adkison is already up to speed on the city’s pending litigation. I think you are looking at spending a whole lot of money,” Dobbins said.



Stafford was the only attorney present at Monday’s meeting.



Resident Ronnie Brown returned to the council to discuss damage to his son, Gavin Brown’s, automobile wheels. Brown said the damage was caused by a utility cut on the roadway that was improperly done. The city’s insurance provider, the Florida League of Cities, denied the claim, saying the city was not responsible for the damage.



In the June 17 workshop, City Clerk Dian Hendrix advised the council that the League of Cities recommended that they not pay for damages that the insurance company found them not responsible for paying. “It would set a bad precedent,” Hendrix said.



She explained that to the council again on Monday.



“They recommended against us doing anything,” Hendrix said.



“We can understand where you’re coming from,” Hawkins told Brown, “but we have to do what’s best for the city.”



Hendrix provided Brown with contact information for the city’s insurance provider so he could pursue an appeal of the denied claim.



Mayor Michelle Cook reminded everyone of the July 4 celebration planned in Vernon, which will begin with a parade at 4 p.m. and end with fireworks at 9 p.m.



There will be food, vendors and entertainment by Gilley’s Family Opry.



The Miss Firecracker Pageant will be held Saturday in Vernon, and the starting time has been changed to 2 p.m. due to the Watermelon Festival also taking place on Saturday, the mayor said.