Nelson Out Littleton In

In what could only be described as one of the biggest power shifts in recent Lenoir City government, LCUB General Manager Fred Nelson was replaced by assistant manager Shannon Littleton at Friday's LCUB board meeting. Mayor Brookshire and Mr. Nelson were not at the meeting.

The drama began to unfold mid week when a public notice appeared in the Daily Digest announcing a meeting of the board for today (Friday) at 1:00. Several board members had requested the meeting. However Brookshire objected to the meeting and wanted it canceled. Early Friday morning, written notices appeared on the doors at city hall stating that the meeting had been canceled. The notices were signed, printed, from Matt Brookshire, Chairman Of The Board.

LCUB board members arrived at the appointed time and the meeting was held. For now to make a long story short, councilman Tony Aikens stated that ever since Nelson had announced his retirement, it had created a lot of instability at the utilities and there had been a lot of rumors circulating and he felt for the good of the utilities and the rate payers the change needed to be made. Aikens made the motion to accept Nelson's earlier retirement notice and make it effective immediately and to appoint Shannon Littleton as interim manager of the utilities. The motion received a unanimous vote of the board.

As of 1:30 Friday Mr. Nelson is retired and Littleton is the interim manager. Legal challenges to the board's decision are a possibility. There were several other issues decided at the meeting but this was the big one. I will provide a more detailed update soon.

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LCUB dismisses general manager

By Hugh Willett knoxnews.com

LENOIR CITY - The board of directors of the Lenoir City Utilities Board voted unanimously this afternoon to dismiss and replace retiring LCUB General Manager Fred Nelson.

In a special called meeting at city hall, the board voted to appoint LCUB Assistant General Manager Shannon Littleton as interim general manager during the search for a new leader.

Board member Tony Aikens made the motion to replace Nelson. Aikens said that the "rumors" among hourly and salary employees of LCUB were keeping them from concentrating on their jobs.

The board also voted to establish a search committee for a new general manager and new committees to oversee budget and personnel issues. The committees give the board more responsibility for management decisions at the utility.

Lenoir City Mayor Matt Brookshire, chairman of the LCUB board, was not present at today's meeting. Brookshire, who is Nelson's son-in-law, is considered a leading candidate for the new GM job.

During a board meeting earlier this week Brookshire and Nelson both argued against the formation of committees to manage personnel and budget issues. Under Nelson's leadership, the general manager had sole responsibility for salary and personnel decisions.

Board member Eddie Simpson said that he felt the board should "take back control" of LCUB.

A special called meeting of the board today was posted in a local newspaper on Wednesday. This morning, however, a notice canceling the meeting and signed by Brookshire was posted on the doors of city hall.

Board members reached at home this morning said they intended to hold the meeting regardless, as long as they had a quorum.

Nelson, who last month had announced his intention to retire in January of 2010, was not at the meeting and could not be reached for comment. The board voted to give him his full pay and benefits through his official retirement date. Nelson had worked for LCUB since 1966.

Brookshire told city council members earlier in the week that the board committees should not have control of salary and personnel issues.

Simpson said Monday he was in favor of using a committee made up of board members to make such decisions. Simpson was joined by Tony Aikens, Mike Henline and Douglas Hines, who all sit on city council and the utility's board.

Nelson ousted early
Greg Wilkerson News Herald
Members of the Lenoir City Utilities Board met Friday afternoon, despite having the meeting cancelled by Board Chairman and Lenoir City Mayor Matt Brookshire, to force an early retirement for LCUB General Manager Freddie Nelson.

Neither Nelson nor Brookshire were at the meeting.  Last month Nelson announced his plans to retire, effective Jan. 22. 

The members present Friday, including Tony Aikens, Bobby Johnson, Joel Garber, Mike Henline, Douglas Hines and Pat Beasley voted unanimously to pay Nelson through Jan. 22, but replace him immediately with Shannon Littleton, the city's attorney and assistant general manager at LCUB, as acting manager until a permanent replacement is selected. Vice Chairman Eddie Simpson was also at the meeting but as acting chairman in Brookshire's absence did not cast a vote.

Aikens, who made the motion to remove Nelson, said when a person in Nelson's position announces his retirement, "it creates turmoil, rumors among the hourly people, administrative people and salary people." His motion included paying Littleton at the same level as Nelson while he is fulfilling the role. "I'll take the challenge as the board sees fit," Littleton said, adding, "I would encourage the board to do a regional search for a general manager."

Littleton also pointed out he would be among the candidates for the position. "I think we need to take our time and get the best person," Hines said.

The board also voted unanimously to expand the members of the search committee for a new general manager to include all the members of the board including the mayor. They also approved the appointments of Aikens, Simpson, Henline and Hines to the LCUB personnel committee and Johnson, Garber, Beasley and Gene Hamby, who was not present, to the budget and salary committees.

At the beginning of the meeting Littleton asked the board members to join him in a closed-door executive session to discuss possible litigation stemming from their actions.

LCUB names new GM
Littleton to replace retiring Nelson amid controversy