The Glen Rose City Council came out of an executive session Thursday evening, June 28, and voted to “proceed with possible litigation regarding the previous city administrator” — Chester Nolen.
Mayor Sue Oldenburg told the Glen Rose Reporter the next morning that the motion put forward by City Council member Chris Bryant and seconded by Dennis Moore was approved by a 3-2 vote. Robert Marquez and Linda James cast the “no” votes, while Moore, Bryant and Julia Douglas voted “yes.”
The wording of the motion states that the city will “retain the legal services of Lynn, Ross and Gannaway,” and also approved current interim City Administrator Michael Leamons to “proceed with the process.”
Lynn, Ross and Gannaway, LLC, is a law firm with offices in Fort Worth.
When asked about the motion concerning the litigation, Oldenburg stated, “I can’t make a comment on that.”
Leamons said on Monday that one of the lawyers representing Lynn, Ross and Gannaway is scheduled to attend the City Council meeting this Monday, July 9, but that will be in an executive session starting at 5:30 p.m. The regular monthly City Council meeting open to the public will commence after the executive session ends.
“They’re going to come to the regular meeting in July (Monday) and give a report in executive session,” Leamons said, noting that he is “not at liberty” to give any more details about the investigation.
On May 11, the Council and Nolen terminated his $93,000 one-year contract by mutual agreement, with the voting margin being 3-2 in favor. That came three months into the one-year contract extension, and was effective that same day. The Council also approved a severance deal in which Nolen was paid the equivalent of six months salary.
Controversy about the circumstances of that sequence of events surfaced on social media soon after it was announced.
Nolen stated a month ago that he asked out of the contract primarily because of what he cited as bullying, such as on social media, in connection with a five-year contract the city had entered into with an Abilene-area company, Knox Waste Disposal, for solid waste disposal.
The Council voted on June 11 to authorize Leamons to go forward with the necessary steps to start "an external investigation" on the situation with Nolen.
Leamons noted that after the executive session Monday, “the Council will be able to take any action they deem appropriate in the regular session, following the executive session.”
Moore, who is the mayor pro tem, said that the law firm will “look at all the documents” so the council members can “evaluate if there is any reason to go forward.”
Nolen was chosen as Bridgeport’s interim city manager beginning May 30 by vote of the Bridgeport City Council, according to a May 19 article published by the Wise County Messenger.
A voice mail message from the Glen Rose Reporter was left on Nolen’s cell phone last week, offering him a chance to contribute to this article. As of press time, Nolen had not responded.