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UCDD up in arms over firings
Controversy continues
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UCDD officials discuss the recent firing of two employees at the agency. The two women who were terminated claim the firings were in retaliation for their role in exposing former director Wendy Askins wrongdoings. - photo by Photo by: Reed Vanderpool
Randy Williams, named interim Upper Cumberland Development District director only a few weeks ago, found himself at the center of a controversy over the firing of two long-time UCDD employees last week.After Williams, who was apparently former director Wendy Askins’ assistant for some time, fired Kathy Pealer and her daughter Ashley Pealer on June 18, a firestorm erupted, with the two women leveling allegations that the firings were carried out in retaliation for their involvement in blowing the whistle on Askins and the Living the Dream project in Putnam County.The Pealer’s attorney has reportedly threatened a lawsuit if the women are not reinstated.A special meeting of the UCDD board was called last Tuesday, and members questioned Williams about his reasons for the firings.Williams told the UCDD board members that his decision to terminate the women was in the interest of cutting costs, and not retaliatory in any way.“It was financial. There is no retaliation,” Williams said. “When I was made interim, I thought of ways to streamline and make the agency more effective.