6:00: Morning News

Embattled Kanawha parks director to stay on job

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Hutchinson will keep his job, at least for now.

Jeff Hutchinson

The Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission met Thursday to vote on Hutchinson’s future.

With a 6-1 vote, with one member abstaining, Hutchinson will remain in his position. However, Ret. Maj. Gen. Allen Tackett, the commission chair, said Hutchinson isn’t guaranteed anything.

“In those documents that were presented is a six-month evaluation of his performance. He has six months to improve and make sure the parks are going in the right direction,” explained Tackett.  If not, he will be terminated.

Hutchinson said he plans to move forward.  “I appreciate their vote. I’ll continue to do what I’ve done for the past 11 years until somebody tells me different,” he said.

Hutchinson has come under fire several times during his tenure as director for decisions he’s made.

However, a verbal agreement made by Hutchinson and approved by the board to hire a contractor to remove debris from Coonskin Park after the 2012 derecho ended up in a legal battle. It ended with a jury siding in favor of the contractor. Hutchinson has had to deal with the fallout since then.

“Even though I am the park director, I take direction from the park (board),” said Hutchinson. “I don’t have a vote. I do what I’m asked to do!”

Meanwhile, Tackett said the next year will be critical for the park system as a new bridge and entrance into Coonskin Park are built and improvement are made to other recreation areas. The general stressed all eyes will be on Hutchinson and how he handles his job.

“He is going to be scrutinized extremely heavily by this board to make sure things are done in the proper manner and that the I’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed,” Tackett said.

Hutchinson said he’s ready to put the questions behind him and get on with the work of the park system.

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