Lenoir City fills codes, recreation positions

Stephanie Myers-News Herald

Lenoir City Council filled two vacant positions Monday night that have sat empty since employees were fired earlier this year.

Rondel Branam will serve as the city's codes enforcement officer and Zach Cusick will serve as administrative assistant with Lenoir City Parks and Recreation. Mayor Tony Aikens and council members said they were "happy" with the hires.

"I think both of those gentlemen will do an excellent job. They certainly are qualified, both of them," Aikens said following the council meeting.

Branam, who is retiring from the codes enforcement officer position at the city of Loudon at the end of this month, will earn $38,000 a year plus benefits.

"It's just time for me to move on from here," Branam, who has worked in the field for 27 years, said in a phone interview Tuesday morning. Branam has been Loudon's building inspector and codes enforcement officer since March 2005 and had served as fire chief and building inspector from 1986 to 2005.

Aikens said Branam will make less money working for Lenoir City. The city has offered Branam one week of vacation and 40 hours of sick leave.

"I feel based on the fact that we do not have to send anybody to school, we don't have to have a loss of them being gone for weeks going to Nashville to get certified and the expense of that we felt like that this (vacation benefit) would help the individual out," Public Safety Director Don White said to council members.

Branam starts his new job Oct. 1. The codes enforcement officer is no longer a department head position.

Cusick will earn $34,000 a year plus benefits, Aikens said. Cusick, who grew up in Lenoir City but is currently residing in Cincinnati, received a degree in leisure services from Carson-Newman University and had worked with the department previously.

"I think he will be an outstanding young man to fill that position and help move, with Steve Harrelson's direction, to help move that department forward," Aikens said.

White said filling the two positions had taken longer than expected.

For the codes enforcement position, White said the city initially was in search of an individual who was already certified.

"There are quite a bit of things going on in that office between planning, storm water, codes enforcement, that's residential and commercial and we really just did not get really any applicants who had all the certifications that were needed," White said.

"This gentleman, Mr. Branam has been actually helping us for the last several months on our plumbing and mechanical inspections, and so he does have knowledge of Lenoir City...It just fell in place because I was concerned about how long it would take to get somebody fully certified to do the work," White said. "We will cross-train everybody that is in that office so we're not stuck in a bad position if somebody leaves or somebody gets ill or whatever."

An interim codes enforcement officer has filled in since the January termination of Leslie Johnson.

Johnson is currently in a legal battle with the city and defendants Aikens, White and City Administrator W. Dale Hurst after Johnson claimed she was wrongfully terminated.