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PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. You can donate through PayPal by clicking here. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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BREAKING NEWS: Pike County Times Investigates Former County Manager Ron Alexander Part 3
By Editor Becky Watts

ZEBULON - Pike County Times has walked through the hiring of many county managers over the years. Some employments have gone smoothly, and some have not. Pike County has a reputation as a bit of a revolving door of late with the exception of John Hanson staying for six years. Lately, Bobby Bickley stayed just six months before resigning, and Ron Alexander resigned after only five months on the job. There was no exposé after Bickley left; it just wasn’t a good fit for him as county manager. But there were rumors of problems while Ron Alexander was here as county manager.

An extensive search of the internet had not brought up anything of consequence prior to the time of Ron Alexander’s hire so no open records requests were filed at that time. However, Pike County Times had heard about problems during his tenure and took a look back over his employment application to discover something that was missed in the initial review of his application. The reason for leaving Henry County was “Let go.” [Note of Correction from the Editor: A look back at the original Open Records Request (ORR) to Henry County shows that the ORR was made on June 5. This is after the June 4 County Budget meeting but right before Alexander’s resignation on June 10. The information was not received until after his resignation. It’s a small distinction, but it needed to be made in order to be absolutely factual.]

By the first of June, Pike County Times had been involved in several incidents with Alexander including the budget that wasn’t completed according to the normal annual timeline, the COVID back to work debacle, the hiring of an employee who was given benefits over and above what normal employees are given, and the budget hearing in which the county manager tried to give himself a $5,000 raise.

This is Pike County’s history with Ron Alexander as county manager. There was a great deal of time and effort put into this article as well as the two before it. Pike County Times will be treating those who complained about the county manager here in Pike County with the same respect as those who complained in Henry County and Garden City. They are whistleblowers, and there will be no names in this article.

In order to move this part of the investigation forward, Pike County Times met with County Attorney Rob Morton and County Clerk Angela Blount in order to walk through what the county had with regard to Open Records and specify exactly how much information was being requested. Mrs. Blount was there because she is the Open Records Custodian for the county.

The request for Open Records resulted in about 2 inches of copied documentation. Part of this request included the printed information from Garden City that had been sent to Pike County Times previously by email. [Note from the Editor: In the world of reporting, it is better to have too much information than not enough, and I like having paper in my hand so I can refer to it as I am writing.] The total amount for this information was a little more than $60.

During this meeting, Pike County Times found out that it had obtained information from Henry County that the Pike County Sheriff’s Office had not been given when the investigator made his request for information about Alexander. Henry County Human Resources had advised the investigator that all personnel files are destroyed after a certain period of time so there were no personnel records for Alexander.

However, Pike County Times asked very specific questions regarding the termination and/or resignation of Ron E. Alexander as well as requested a copy of any litigation and/or settlement regarding his tenure there as an employee. This is information that had to be searched for in storage. The information obtained by Pike County Times was given to the county for its records.

It might be helpful to readers to learn about former CM Ron Alexander’s history at both Henry County and Garden City before reading about Pike County because there is a pattern of behavior that continues through his employment here in Pike County. Click here to read “BREAKING NEWS: Pike County Times Investigates Former County Manager Ron Alexander Part 1” and click here to read “BREAKING NEWS: Pike County Times Investigates Former County Manager Ron Alexander Part 2.”

Ron Alexander gave his written notice of resignation to Garden City on December 18, 2019 and began work in Pike County as the County Manager on January 13, 2020.

Authorizing the Investigation

Something happened between his first day of work and the January 28, 2020 County Commission Meeting that prompted commissioners to take a harder look at the man they had hired as county manager. County Attorney Rob Morton advised in the in-person meeting with Pike County Times that the county had received confidential information that questioned whether Alexander was the best choice for the position of county manager.

In the beginning of the January 28, 2020 meeting, Chairman Briar Johnson asked to add Executive Session “for discussion or deliberation on the appointment, employment, compensation, hiring, disciplinary action or dismissal, or periodic evaluation or rating of a county officer or employee as provided in O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3(6) germane to Administration Office.” This must have pertained to the county manager because a letter went to the Sheriff’s Office the next day.

On Wednesday, January 29, 2020, Morton sent a request to Sheriff Jimmy Thomas that read as follows: “I have been authorized to request for you, and any designated deputies, to conduct a thorough background investigation of the county manager Ron Alexander. In addition to any criminal history, there have been assertions of potential misconduct related to Mr. Alexander’s previous employment that need to be considered. Upon completion of this investigation, please provide me with the results. Thank you and please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss this matter further or if you need any additional information.”

According to the documentation obtained by open records, Captain Jamie Strickland and Major David Neal of the Pike County Sheriff’s Office requested any and all records pertaining to arrests and made inquiries at former places of employment. This included reference checks and interviews at prior places of employment. [Note from the Editor: It may seem strange to readers that this investigation took place after Alexander’s hire, but keep in mind that this was not the first time that he had applied to work in Pike County. There did not seem to be any irregularities that would have prompted a deep background investigation prior to this time including the fact that he had been hired in various places to work without an issue. Changes have been made as a result of this experience on the county level that readers will see at the end of the article.]

The background investigation was completed by February 6, 2020. Major Neal provided his information to the County Attorney with a memo that read as follows: “This background investigation has been completed at the request of County Attorney Robert Morton, on behalf of the Pike County Board of Commissioners. This file is intended to be a non-bias and factually based report of numerous interviews and documents received. All of the synopis’s of interviews capture the points being made by the interviewee in regards to various aspects of the subject interview.”

The Investigation

Here are highlights of the investigation from County Attorney Rob Morton’s notes. First, Alexander lied on his application to the county from 2018 when he checked “No” to whether he had been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. This will be addressed in the next section.

Second, Garden City showed some issues that would have been concerning if the commissioners had known this information prior to his hiring. There was verbal counseling for failing to follow instructions, a pattern of struggling in dealing with subordinate employees, problems dealing with the public and employees to the point that he was constantly being reminded that the “customer comes first,” it was said that he “doesn’t play well with others,” he interfered in another job position (Fire Chief), and there was an EEOC complaint of discrimination based on race and sex. [Note from the Editor: Details about Garden City are in “BREAKING NEWS: Pike County Times Investigates Former County Manager Ron Alexander Part 2.”] More telling is the fact that the City Manager of Garden City said, “No comment,” when asked if he would recommend Alexander for the position of county manager. He also questioned why a thorough background check was not performed prior to the hiring of Alexander.

Third, Bryan County showed a formal reprimand for conducting business not within the scope of his duties. [Note from the Editor: This is also in “BREAKING NEWS: Pike County Times Investigates Former County Manager Ron Alexander Part 2.”] It was noted in the Sheriff’s Office investigation and in the prior article that Alexander did not agree with or sign the reprimand.

Fourth, Henry County showed some problems that would have affected his hiring as well. A prior director of the building department advised that he should have fired Alexander two or three times, that he was a smart man and knew the job but couldn’t get along well with other employees, and that he “was very arrogant and bossy when it wasn’t his place to be so.” He also said that he would not recommend Alexander as County Manager and asked, “Do they know what they have hired down there?” [Note from the Editor: Details about Henry County (not including this new information) are in “BREAKING NEWS: Pike County Times Investigates Former County Manager Ron Alexander Part 1.”]

According to the notes from Major Neal, there was also positive information obtained from one prior place of employment. The former vice president of Government Services IPT advised that Alexander was a great employee and that she considered him to be an expert in his field. At this place of employment, he got along well with others and had no issues. He worked there from 2009 to 2012.

Applications for Employment

According to the documentation obtained by Pike County Times from Henry County and reported in “BREAKING NEWS: Pike County Times Investigates Former County Manager Ron Alexander Part 1,” Alexander was given a letter of termination on August 28, 2008. Over the years, the reasons for leaving Henry County were not the same on his employment applications.

On his March 31, 2012 application for employment for Bryan County, Alexander listed the reason for leaving the Henry County Building Department as “terminated.” On his July 16, 2014 application to Garden City, he listed his reason for leaving Henry County as “Department Restructuring.” On his July 24, 2018 application for county manager of Pike County, he said that his reason for leaving Henry County was “Let go-change in leadership.” And according to his July 9, 2019 application for county manager, the reason stated for leaving Henry County was “Let go.”

On his 2018 application for employment in Pike County, Alexander also checked “No” in the box that asked whether he had been convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony. According to County Attorney Morton’s notes from the background check, Alexander had been arrested in 2005 for a bad check in which he pleaded Nolo Contender which resulted in a fine and a DUI from 1992 in which he pled guilty. These are old convictions that would not have been likely to affect his hiring, but checking the box that says “No” was untrue. Under the next section where it asked, “If yes, list nature and year of conviction. Include all traffic and DUI convictions,” Alexander wrote “n/a.” This was untrue too. [Note from the Editor: Current applications no longer have this question because Georgia is one of 35 states and over 150 cities and counties that have adopted “ban the box” legislation that requires an employer to consider the applicant and their qualifications without their conviction or arrest record. Technically, this information could be obtained after he was offered the job position in the two weeks before he was hired. It would not be the first time that someone was chosen for county manager, and the offer was rescinded. There was a case here many years ago when a candidate fudged his resume and left out an ugly portion of his employment history. I found out when an anonymous package of documents and news clippings arrived in my PO Box. This was long before Pike County Times was even in existence. In this case, the information in this background check was so old that it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway, but the fact that he lied about it in 2018 probably would have.]

Pike County Times requested a copy of notes kept by County Attorney Rob Morton in reference to the former county manager. The notes were all dated and extremely brief, but it provided a timeline to walk readers through Alexander’s employment with Pike County from his first day to his oral resignation five months later. An anonymous warning after Alexander’s hiring along with the information obtained through the investigation of the Sheriff’s Office could have been the hint that showed the need for a timeline in case it was needed for a later time. Garden City also had a detailed timeline from where it had problems, but that information did not come to light until several weeks after Alexander’s hire.

Employment in Pike County

Ron Alexander was hired as county manager and began work on January 13, 2020. Problems began almost immediately. A January 12, 2020 email from County Attorney Rob Morton to Alexander, the commissioners, and the staff in the County Commission Office gave a briefing/summary of all departments and current county matters. Morton laid out a job description of everyone in the County Commission office and said, “We have great employees working for Pike…” Morton had served as the Interim County Manager prior to Alexander’s hire so it was his responsibility to advise what he had done as Interim County Manager, pass responsibilities on to the incoming County Manager, and help with the annual budget.

In this email, Morton advised that he may have misunderstood, but he thought that the new county manager would be present at the past county commission meeting so they could get together prior to his first day at the office. Alexander replied that he had hoped to make the meeting but that it had been “crazy busy” getting things settled in his new home prior to his first day of employment. Alexander said, “I too think the staff I have met thus far are all good people, and I look forward to meeting the rest.”

The next hint of a problem was at a meeting between Alexander and County Attorney on January 22, 2020. According to the County Attorney’s notes regarding County Manager, an issue was raised regarding an employee in the County Commission office whose employment was later terminated by Alexander. He advised Morton that he had given her “corrective counseling.”

Over the course of the next week, there were two phone calls from County Commission Chairman Briar Johnson regarding a possible executive session during the upcoming meeting, and an executive session was held during the Tuesday, January 28, 2020 county commission meeting. The request for a thorough background investigation was made to the Sheriff the following day with the investigation being completed the following week. Commissioners were aware that there were possible problems, but Alexander worked in Pike County until he gave an oral resignation after a lengthy Executive Session during the June 10, 2020 Commission meeting.

On January 29, Morton and Alexander met to discuss a local road as well as the 2020 budget calendar which would begin with the input of data and meeting with all department heads beginning at the end of January/beginning of February, possible workshops with commissioners and the public, and notification to department heads, constitutional officers, and component units of recommendations all before the official presentation of the budget around the first couple of weeks of April. The budget was revised and ended up being presented in June with the help of an employee who worked during the week prior to her actual start date in order to help input the budget for the county manager.

Alexander sent out his county manager report by email on February 7. The report included sections entitled “Open Agenda Action Items,” “County manager Comments and updates (made public),” and “Closed agenda items (non-public).” The “non-public items” were about a spreader body and the possibility of outsourcing work on the culvert on Concord Road, but nothing in a county manager report is non-public when it comes to open records—especially when Pike County Times has asked for this document after each meeting since John Hanson was county manager. Morton reminded Alexander by email that they had already discussed this matter and that “anything you send to the Commissioners is considered a public record and subject to open records requests (ORR) unless it is covered by a specific exception.” Morton advised that Alexander could anticipate receiving an ORR related to his reports to the commissioners. Pike County Times still requests this document and included information from this document in writeups about each commission meeting.

March 3 had an email from Morton to Alexander advising that he had not heard from him in a while and needed to follow up on a couple of items with him including a county employee issue that Alexander had mentioned to commissioners and revisions to policies that Alexander had mentioned at the past commission meeting. Morton also advised that he had not received information related to budget submissions from departments and Constitutional officers that would help him work with Alexander on the annual budget process. Morton said that this is what he understood was expected of him from the commissioners and requested the information in order to be included in the budget process.

On March 3, there was a meeting with two employees from the County Commission Office. No details are available.

Around the middle of the month, there were issues with the past audit not being completed and a possible hold on state funding for local road projects. Morton was advised by voicemail by a member of the Georgia Department of Audits that the county could not obtain an extension on the 2019 audit because it had requested extensions on the 2017 and 2018 audits. This issue was addressed later on. Pike County Times found out later that the audit had to be completed before the budget process could move forward so one thing being late led to another.

There was a phone call in late March and another around the middle of April from a commissioner advising that complaints about the county manager that had made to him. In mid-April, there were two separate meetings with employees from the County Commission Office regarding the county manager. Heads of departments and several constitutional officers (elected officials) contacted the county attorney regarding concerns about the county manager. A complaint was also made by a female employee in the County Commission office on April 20 to the commissioners and county attorney.

Meanwhile, there was no direction from the county manager when it came to an overall county protocol on reopening offices after closures due to COVID-19. On Wednesday, April 23, Pike County Times asked for information from the county manager during this time in order to give citizens a heads up on what to expect as far as re-opening and asked for information about the upcoming budget process because little had been said on this to date. Specific questions were asked including what protocols the county would be following as far as sanitizing and what would happen if a member of the public entered a county office and was sick.

On Friday, April 24 at 3:58 p.m., an email went out to employees advising that they would be coming back to work on the following Monday, April 27. Pike County Times then received an email at 4:18 p.m. that advised as follows: “The County is set to re-open the county office in accordance with the below as of Monday April 27th. As for the budget, the county has fallen behind on the original schedule due to the current virus conditions. However, I do not anticipate the overall county budget being late at this time. I believe the county will be able to provide an updated budget schedule about the middle of next week.”

The response from Pike County Times was as follows: “The information on the budget is good news. As far as reopening goes, sanitizing and social distancing are very good things. I do wish that the employees had been given a little more notice to get everything (including regular childcare) in place for Monday, but hopefully we never see an event like this coronavirus again.”

There is a note that Becky Watts from Pike County Times called the county attorney on April 25 and spoke to Morton regarding the audit and related issues such as the email about reopening from the previous day.

It was noted from the end of April through May that Alexander was discussing the upcoming ambulance contract with Grady. Morton was receiving calls where Alexander was asking for guidance on the cap on utilities at the Zebulon station before Grady moved from their old location into the fire station. Then there was a call on May 12 regarding the Zebulon City Council and the subleasing of the fire department to Grady. There was a requirement in the contract with Zebulon that Zebulon be made aware of and sign off on any subleasing of its facility. This was not done in a timely manner, but the details were given to the City so they could sign off on the contract per Morton’s instructions.

The Beginning of the End

By the end of May, several department heads and elected officials had called Morton regarding their budgets, and there were complaints about treatment of employees throughout the county as well as in the County Commission office. Complaints from those in the County Commission office concerning the County Manager were taken to the County Commission Chairman Briar Johnson according to proper chain of command procedure for a complaint against the County Manager. Section 36.23(E)(1) of the Pike County Code of Ordinances advised the following: “Any employee who believes that he or she is being harassed or threatened shall report the incidents(s) to his or her supervisor as soon as possible so that steps may be taken to protect the employee from further harassment; appropriate investigative and disciplinary measures may be initiated… in the event that the allegations involve the County Manager, to the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners.”

There were phone calls from four of the five commissioners by the end of May and the fifth during the first week of June as well. And by the first week of June, this list of people who had called to complain about Alexander grew to include people from the community.

Employees from the County Commission Office and County Manager Ron Alexander were interviewed with the county attorney and less than a quorum of county commissioners to determine the cause of the problem. Complaints ranged from Alexander not responding to emails or phone calls to not showing respect for others including department heads, employees, and members of the community. There was more than one complaint about his actions when he was angry including being extremely aggressive and very argumentative. Alexander’s interview seemed focused on one female employee who was the subject of handwritten, dated notes as well as a typed description of his complaint against her.

Then it was discovered that the county manager had made a change in how 911 addressing was done in the county but had not advised the commissioners of the change until the budget meeting on June 4, 2020. Moving this responsibility from one department to another without commissioner knowledge or approval was against county code. Click here to read more about it.

He had also hired an employee and made adjustments to her benefits without bringing it before the commissioners. This was also in conflict with county policy. Click here to read about this.

And he included a raise for one employee based on the 911 addressing that was different than the 2% raise discussed for the rest of the employees and added a $5,000 raise for himself that he ended up removing from the budget during budget discussions on June 10, 2020. Click here to read about this.

On June 9, 2020, a text message was sent from Chairman Johnson to County Attorney Morton asking Morton to consider how many county policies had been broken or violated by the county manager in the past five months. By the time Morton had finished writing down a list, he had three handwritten pages of issues related to possible broken or violated county policies that were to be discussed by the entire Board of Commissioners with the county manager in the closed executive session at the meeting the next day.

Issues included a lack of communication, doing his own research on policy matters, doesn’t provide records or share information, no follow up after promising to do something like budget matters with department heads, working on the budget without help, and not responding to emails and phone calls.

The list of possible violations ranged from engaging in offensive language to the public, supervisory personnel, or fellow employees and conduct unbecoming to harassment and threatening/hostile behavior, directing staff to destroy a public document, giving immediate employee access to vacation and insurance without Commission approval, and violating the confidential nature of county affairs.

There was also a note that included possible policy violations related to changes made to the address numbering system which, according to Sections 150.55 and 150.36, specifically state that this responsibility is under E-911 and not under Planning and Zoning as the county manager had designated prior to the budget meeting without the permission of the Board of Commissioners. A change in code would be needed to make this swap in duties official according to Pike County’s official code of ordinance.

Specific possible ethical violations included: Section 36.20(B)(12) “The willful making of false statements to supervisors, officials, the public, boards, Commissions, or agencies,” Section 36.20(B)(13) “The violation of County ordinances, administrative regulations, departmental rules, or these rules and regulations,” Section 36(B)(15) “The discovery of a false statement in an application,” Section 36.20(B)(18) “Engaging in offensive conduct or using offensive language toward the public, supervisory personnel, or fellow employees,” Section 36.20(B)(19) “Harassment on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, citizenship, age, or disability,” Section 36.23(C)(2) “Inappropriate, unprofessional or harassing actions causing an employee to feel intimidated or threatened in his or her workplace to the extent the employee believes his or her employment status may be unreasonably in jeopardy unless actions outside the scope of his or her job description are performed,” and Section 36.23(B) “Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 USC 2000e et seq.) and similar state statutes, sexual harassment in the workplace constitutes unlawful employment discrimination which may give rise to liability against both the employer and the harasser whether the harasser is a supervisory level employee or a co-employee of the complainant...”

When commissioners finally exited the meeting room after a lengthy Executive Session at the June 10, 2020 Board of Commissioners meeting, County Attorney Rob Morton said that the county manager had tendered an oral resignation.

Commissioners were asked if they wanted to accept his resignation. There was no discussion, and no reason was given for the resignation. A motion was made to accept the resignation, and it was approved in a 3-2 vote Commissioners James Jenkins and Jason Proctor opposed.

Alexander was supervised as he cleaned out his office after the meeting.


This is Pike County’s history with Ron Alexander as county manager. Pike County experienced many of the same problems that were noted in Alexander’s previous employments.

Ron Alexander began work in Pike County as the County Manager on January 13, 2020 and resigned on June 10, 2020 after only five months on the job.

Pike County has hired a new county manager, Brandon Rogers, who was already working for the county at the time of his hire. Pike County has also made changes when it comes to future hiring processes.

“Based on the information received from the investigatory report,” Morton advised Pike County Times, “the county intends to incorporate such investigative reports for future hiring processes.”

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