For some time now, Perry County Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble has been dogged with questions regarding the 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe driven by Perry County Ambulance Authority Assistant Director Wanda Noble. Information recently released by the Ambulance Authority reveals that the automobile in question was purchased on April 21, 2011, at Falls Chevy Cadillac Buick GMC in Corbin for the amount of $31,913.80, and titled to Perry County Ambulance Authority/Wanda Noble.
On August 1, 2012, the automobile was retitled to indicate sole ownership by the Perry County Ambulance Authority. The information release also contained a request by auditors to the Corbin dealership to provide a written statement certifying the title and bill of sale to be in error as to the co-ownership by Mrs. Noble. The information packet contained no response from the dealership to that request. Information from the ambulance service indicates that, “We took appropriate steps to correct the dealer’s mistake.” No information released indicates that the dealership ever acknowledged a mistake on their part.
A request for a statement of current mileage on the vehicle netted the following: At time of purchase odometer reading was 504 miles. As of July 10, 2012, at time of oil change, the reading was documented as 27,445 miles. In roughly 15 months, the vehicle traveled approximately 26,941 miles, averaging roughly 450 miles weekly or 1,800 miles monthly. Wanda Noble lives at Rowdy, necessitating an approximate 30-mile round trip to work and back. She enjoys a four-day per week work schedule. The math is easy enough. During that 15-month period, at 480 miles per month, the mileage driven to and from work should be in the 7,200 mile-range. Generously, one could expect no more than 10,000 miles driven — 17,000 miles less than the July 10, 2012 odometer reading. No information was requested or given as to the presence of the private “Coal Our Future” license plate sported by the vehicle. Neither was information requested or provided indicating business transactions by the Perry County Ambulance Authority in London, Somerset, or Tennessee. One obvious possibility, of course, would be routine maintenance for the Tahoe which, at 120 miles weekly, may come due twice a year? Questioned about the matter, Judge-Executive Noble declares Assistant Director Noble to be “always on call” and “does a very good job.” What credentials does she have to warrant “on call” and “first responder” pay grade?
A book could be written on Principles for Ruining a Workplace Environment. Principle 1: Choose one employee. Grant that person exclusive unearned, undeserved privilege and material benefit over and above other personnel. The privileged beneficiary will become arrogant, puffed up, overly authoritative, and domineering toward the rest of the team. The others, being slighted, become resentful, unhappy, less productive, and less respectful of the authority figure who condones and participates in that fiasco. Ultimately, once-productive, happy employees make a decision to either suffer the unfairness, along with the abuse perpetrated by the privileged one, or find another place to work. Replacements usually will be more submissive, less productive individuals who will tolerate anything in order to have a job, thereby reducing the quality of the product or service. In a life-saving, critical care unit, none of us can afford a reduced quality of care, not to mention that $32,000 would have gone a long way toward replacing one of the more dilapidated fleet vehicles with mileage of over 300,000.
On a separate but related issue, on August 13, 2008, a Hazard Herald article announced the receipt of an ATV donated by Yamaha that would be parked at the Hazard Ambulance Service positioned to respond to different areas when needed. In that article, Judge Noble spoke extensively on the need for an ATV at the Service. Today, four years later, the donated Yamaha has never appeared at the designated location.
Finally, the ambulance service is legally a Perry County governmental agency, no different than the county road department. Why is there a distinction that allows ambulance service personnel to be excluded from dental, and vision insurance, cost-of-living raises, and retirement benefits being received by all other county government employees, particularly when the ambulance service is the only financially self-sustaining entity controlled by county government? After all, they are in the business of saving the lives of the rest of us.
In closing, to state Senator Brandon Smith and state Representative Fitz Steele: We, your constituents, are in pressing need of legislation prohibiting employees of county government to be appointed to governing boards of local agencies such as the ambulance service. County employees on such boards must, by the very nature of the position, sometimes make decisions and cast votes that must either compromise their integrity or jeopardize their employment. At the same time, an employee refusing to accept an appointment could be immediately out of favor with superiors and soon unemployed. No employee should be faced with that dilemma. The obvious simple solution: protect our county employees with legislation.
Eddie N. Campbell
Lost Creek, Ky.