911 board gives director warning

Loudon County Emergency Communications Board of Directors has completed an investigation into alleged governmental-issued cellphone misuse between E-911 Center Director Jennifer Estes and Lenoir City Police Chief Don White, who is a member of the board.
Loudon County Sheriff Tim Guider, who serves as 911 board chairman, said Estes has been given a verbal warning. The board does not have authority on White’s phone, which is provided by Lenoir City.
An investigation into the matter began around the middle of January and concluded Feb. 13. Guider said he sought legal advice from Loudon County Attorney Bob Bowman, who recommended the warning.

“It’s two people that’s made a mistake and they’ve owned up to it and apologized to the board and assures that it won’t happen again,” Guider said. “To me it’s their lives, you know.

“Now as far as any misuse, yes, there was misuse by what was texted to Don,” Guider added. “Of course, both of them I guess you could consider that they’re both 24/7 people, but as far as regular hours there’s no evidence of that that I know of. ... I’ve been assured it won’t (happen again). If it does, surely stronger penalties and discipline will follow it up to and including termination.”
An open records request regarding White’s cellphone usage was sent Feb. 13 to Lenoir City Mayor Tony Aikens. The Tennessee Open Records Act requires a response time within seven days. Lenoir City Attorney Gregory Harrison, of Knoxville-based Valliant & Harrison, said he would provide the requested records to the News-Herald by no later than Thursday morning.

The 911 board meets at 1:30 p.m. the third Thursday of every month at Loudon County E-911 Center at 500 John Parris Drive in Loudon. The next meeting is scheduled for March 16.

“The district expects all employees and board members to act in a professional manner,” a memorandum from Guider to Estes, dated Feb. 13, said. “You have committed to members of the personnel committee that you will act accordingly, and that you will lead this organization in a professional manner as you have in the past.”