LENOIR CITY — A Lenoir City woman is picketing the old city hall, claiming that she, her husband and her son were all wrongfully terminated by the city in the past month.
Jill Strange, wife of a Lenoir City Utilities Board manager who resigned in July, said she was terminated from her job with Lenoir City’s parks and recreation department Tuesday for asking too many questions about why her husband had to resign.
Her husband, LCUB gas manager Mike Strange, resigned in July under pressure after an internal investigation determined he had work performed at his home by LCUB employees.
Jill Strange said she was told by her supervisor, Steve Harrelson, that she was a good employee but that he had no choice other than to fire her because Lenoir City Mayor and LCUB Chairman Tony Aikens had ordered her dismissal.
Strange said she was told by Harrelson last Friday that she should stop asking questions about the circumstances of her husband’s departure from LCUB.
“He said stop asking questions or I could find myself out of a job,” she said.
Harrelson, who is also a Loudon County commissioner, could not be reached for comment.
Aikens denies that Strange was fired for asking too many questions. He said she was a new city employee and still within a six-month probationary period.
“The city council decided that she was not meeting job requirements,” he said.
Aikens said he has no animosity towards the Strange family and wishes them the best.
On Tuesday afternoon, Jill Strange was picketing the former city hall building on Broadway in Lenoir City, carrying a sign that accused Aikens of firing her, her husband and her son. She said her son was a 16-year-old intern at LCUB this summer.
“When my husband left, they said there was no reason for him to stay,” she said.
She said the minor work that was performed at her home by LCUB employees was standard procedure at the utility. She alleges that other LCUB employees had work performed at their homes without being asked to resign.