Sullivan County

Sullivan County highway commissioner in bonding controversy

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - Bobby Manning was appointed as the Interim Sullivan County Highway Commissioner on December 23, 2013 following the resignation of former interim commissioner Terry Shaffer.

News 5 learned anyone appointed to that office is required to get bonded.

We asked Sullivan County Attorney Daniel Street about that process.

"What a bond is, somebody pledges that if Bobby Manning does anything wrong that costs the county money that they're going to cover for it up to $100,000," said Daniel Street, the Sullivan County Attorney.

But as of Tuesday evening, 44 days after his appointment Street tells us Manning has failed to get bonded after at least 3 failed attempts.

"You've got to produce the bond or you can't perform your functions, for whatever reason Bobby has been unable to be bonded. I advised him of that problem," said Street.

Street says there are two reasons a person wouldn't get approved for a bond either because of a criminal history or bad credit.

Manning says he doesn't have a criminal record, and while his credit isn't perfect, it's good.

"I am qualified and certified to run this highway department, and I look forward to running it. I just haven't got the bond yet," said Bobby Manning, Interim Sullivan County Highway Commissioner.

Street tells us Manning agreed to a 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline to be bonded, but we waited at the county attorney's office until 6:30 p.m. and Manning did not produce a bond.

"So if he is unable to produce the bond this in my opinion the seat will be vacant," said Street.

As of late Tuesday evening Street tells us that a bonding company will grant Manning a bond for around $8,000 dollars which is well above the average bonding rate for a highway commission.

At this point the county has to negotiate how much they'll pay for Manning to be bonded, after that's complete Manning would have pay the rest of the money out of pocket.

Now the county commission could appoint a new person as interim highway commissioner until the August elections when the voters will decide.

This latest controversy comes less than a week after Manning laid off 7 workers at the highway department citing budget cuts.

Manning and the county attorney tell us that they don't believe these latest revelations are connected to the workers' termination.

It's not known whether these latest findings will call into question Manning's actions during his time as highway commissioner.

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