BONIFAY - Former Holmes County Board of Commissioners Administrative Assistant Sherry Snell has filed a lawsuit with the Holmes County Clerk of Court's office that alleges retaliation and various wrongdoings by both past and present commissioners.
Snell, who served as the board's secretary for more than 11 years, resigned from the position in March and is now coming forward with information about recent county events through the public records.
The suit states County Commission Chairman Clint Erickson promised to "get rid of", demote, or transfer Snell as part of his election campaign and alleges Erickson was attempting "to build a team within the commission that would gain a 3/2 vote to gain control of board decisions." The 3/2 vote team would include Erickson, Commissioner Mickey Locke, and former county commission candidate Brandon Newsom, according to the suit.
On November 22, 2016, after Erickson had won the election, Commissioner Locke made a motion to eliminate Snell's position. The motion did not pass, but Snell states the proposal was retaliation for an incident in which Snell challenged data overages on the county's Verizon plan incurred by a device assigned to Jeremy Benton, a county foreman in Locke's district.
Snell had discovered more than 10,000 photos on Benton's county-issued laptop, many taken with a game camera that captured primarily deer and other wildlife. Snell also recognized photos of Benton and others that were time-stamped during Benton's 10-hour work day and reported misuse of the county property, for which Benton was reprimanded.
The suit also goes on to say that Erickson, who serves as Washington County E-911 coordinator, manipulated the county's library cleaning contract so that it could be awarded to a company owned by a Washington County Commissioner.
According to court records, Snell stated she sought counseling in February with a mental health counselor determining the board of commissioners had permitted her to be bullied and that she "worked in a hostile work environment."
"On March 14, 2017, [Snell] could no longer endure the stress, harassment, and bullying from the commissioners," states the suit. "She submitted a two week resignation at the board meeting, reading it aloud to the board."
The suit goes on to say the board held a special session to discuss Snell's replacement, who would earn $20,000 more in salary and be promoted to Executive Assistant HR Director, with job duties and responsibilities being exactly those performed by Snell.
The county has not yet filed an answering statement to the complaint.
Snell is seeking $15,000 in damages