Oster re-elected as merit council chair

By Mike Steely
Senior Writer
steelym@knoxfocus.com

The Knox County Merit System Council met Wednesday afternoon in the Small Assembly Room of the City-County Building and voted to re-elect their leader.

Gina Oster was nominated by Jim Jennings and approved for the position. All three members of the council voted for her including Oster, Jennings, and Jim Wright, Jr.

Oster then welcomed a new member, John Marshall, who is now the body’s alternate council member. Also present for the meeting was Merit Council Executive Director Paula Taylor and Council Attorney Myers Morton.

Jennings announced that a hearing for corrections officer Wesley Keck has been rescheduled for August. The merit council may also hear grievances from other fired sheriff employees.
Jennings said he is entering his last year on the council and applauded what he described as a “professional” group.

“I don’t do anything for nothing but this is rewarding,” he said, adding, “We’ve collected some balls sometime,” talking about ongoing controversies. He said he is hoping for some “up rates” in pay for officers in the future.

The merit council has been under fire from the sheriff’s office over conflicting duties and will be holding hearings on various complaints by former sheriff employees. Several proposals involving the merit council’s powers were postponed by the Knox County Commission recently.

The conflict involves who hires and reviews qualifications for employment, the size of the council and the powers of the council.

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