KENLY, N.C. (WNCN) — The Kenly Town Council voted in a 3-2 decision to terminate its contract with its Town Manager after the two hour closed meeting session. The council also received the results of an investigation into the police department’s resignations.
The entire Kenly Police Department resigned July 20 citing the work environment created by the town’s new manager.
On Tuesday, Kenly Mayor Herbert Tooie Hales told CBS 17 while the investigation did not find there was a toxic work environment, Town Manager Justine Jones was terminated because it was the “best way to move forward for the town.”
Hales said the decision to terminate Jones wasn’t solely based on the investigation findings.
“We made the best decision we could, and so, sometimes things just don’t fit well and we just don’t feel like we were moving in the right direction and so we terminated the contract,” Hales said.
When CBS 17 asked him to provide specific examples, Hales said he wouldn’t get into personnel matters.
Councilmembers Smith, Henderson, and Peele voted for terminating the Town Manager. Councilmembers Neal and Davis voted against terminating her.
CBS 17 asked Hales if people in Kenly will ever get an answer on what caused the police department to resign.
“That’s a good question, but you know without getting into he said she said, sometimes it’s hard to get to the answer,” Hales said.
Jones told CBS 17 she would not be releasing a statement Tuesday night.
Hales said Kenly is not considering rehiring any of the people who turned in resignations.
Johnston County deputies are still going to continue patrolling the area. The town plans to hire a new police chief to help rebuild the department.
The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office responded to 69 calls for service between Aug. 2 and Monday morning, according to data CBS 17 requested. The Sheriff’s Office said it made one arrest during that time period. The calls for service don’t include self-initiated things, such as deputies checking in on businesses.
Jones released a statement on Tuesday:
“My goal as Town Manager was always to represent Kenly in the best possible manner and to ensure that all decisions and actions were carried out in the best interests of the Town. Having been selected for the position from 30 other candidates, I believe I was selected because my core principles clearly spoke to who I am as a leader and this same management philosophy guides me in performing my job professionally, with integrity, transparency, loyalty, fairness and accountability every day.
“To those near and far who called, emailed, text messaged, sent cards and letters and who paid a personal visit to express their appreciation for the difference I was making, encouraging me to stay the course despite the allegations, and who thought I was a perfect fit for the job, thank you. Through our conversations, I am confident the citizens of Kenly want a more progressive and equitably served community and will hold all members of council accountable for moving the Town toward that goal.
“While all related information is certainly a matter of public concern, the allegations made against me were timely and thoroughly vetted by independent sources and there was no such finding of wrongdoing by me or my office. The decision to not communicate the entire story and publicly share the findings of the report is most unfortunate.
“I am so appreciative to Kenly’s open-minded residents who reserved judgment, town employees who stayed committed and remained focused without missing a beat, and my esteemed colleagues who inspired me. I urge each of you to keep doing great work and serving the needs of the public and Kenly. Although I was not able to accomplish all the goals in progress in the short time I served the Town, given my untimely departure, my commitment to leaving Kenly better than I found it is an accomplishment I will always be proud of. I continue to wish nothing but the best for Kenly.”