GILMER -- In a surprise move, Upshur County Commissioners Court voted 3-0 with one abstention today to fire longtime county Building Maintenance Supervisor Charles Daniels for what County Judge Dean Fowler termed violating "rules for the use of outside trustees from the jail."
On occasions when Daniels went to Sam's for supplies, he took inmates with him rather than returning them to jail and "he didn't think there was anything wrong with it," the judge said.
But "the violations were serious enough that he could have lost his jail certificate," Fowler told The Tyler Paper. And most commissioners "felt like this is the only decision they could make in order to maintain the use of jail trustees."
However, Fowler said Daniels committed no violations of law "that I'm aware of."
Daniels, 62, had worked for the county nearly 19 1/2 years, including 12 as building maintenance supervisor. He was in the courtroom audience when the court terminated him, and declined comment immediately after the meeting to The Tyler Paper.
Hefner, saying it was "probably the hardest decision I've ever had to make since I've been here," made the motion to fire Daniels after the court met with the supervisor during part of an hour-long closed session.
"I think the world of you, Charlie," Hefner said, but added he was moving to terminate the supervisor "due to the circumstances." Commissioners Mike Spencer and Lloyd Crabtree voted for the motion, while Commissioner James Crittenden abstained. Fowler, who normally casts only tiebreaking votes, did not vote.
Daniels told Crabtree in the courthouse hallway afterward, "Ain't no big deal. . .I've been blessed," and he expressed appreciation for having the opportunity to work for the county.
Soon after that, as Daniels was on the elevator to depart, Hefner said, "I'm sorry, Charles." Daniels replied, "No problem."
During today's special session, the court also accepted the resignation of County Road Engineer Eric Fisher, which was submitted last week. Fisher puts in his last day tomorrow.