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CAROLINA SHORES — Several residents have spoken out on behalf of an employee at the town recycling center.
At the town board of commissioners meeting Jan. 9, resident Frances Dibono questioned the actions of town maintenance supervisor Tom Donlon. She said residents are also upset about recent treatment of town recycling center employee Jerry Franklin.
On Dec. 31, Dibono told a Beacon reporter Franklin was reprimanded after a resident complained Franklin had failed to provide proper assistance at the recycling center. She said he is no longer allowed to assist residents with their garbage and that anyone who needs assistance must alert Franklin by pointing at their bag of garbage.
Dibono complained last week Donlon, Franklin’s supervisor, is bringing his trash from South Carolina and using town facilities at the recycling center.
“He’s not paying taxes, he’s not paying any dues, and he’s getting free trash (service),” Dibono said.
She also said Donlon has been “belligerent” and “nasty” to her and claimed he clips coupons salvaged from the recycling center.
“He’s getting paid as a supervisor in the maintenance department,” she said. “I’ve seen him in action how he talks to people, how he belittles his workers, especially Mr. Jerry Franklin.”
Dibono said she wants a complaint placed on Donlon’s record about his behavior.
Resident Irene Beard said it was an abomination the way Franklin has been treated.
“He is the only person over at the recycling center who is always there, always ready to help, and does everything he can to make it easier for older people that come over there,” she said. “And for him to receive a letter ... It’s like the inmates are running the asylum over there, and I think it’s time for it to stop.”
Resident Marie Stemarie said Franklin expedites the flow of traffic at the recycling center.
“To stop him now is an accident waiting to happen,” she said.
Stemarie said interim town administrator Julie Munday cited insurance and liability concerns.
“If you don’t have enough liability insurance, then dammit, pay for more,” Stemarie said.
She urged town officials to “leave Mr. Franklin alone. It seems like it’s going to be a … kangaroo court with this so-called personnel matter.”
Resident Donna Newhouse said, “Mr. Franklin has never, ever refused to help anybody. He is there in bad weather, he is there in hot weather, he is there in the rain. He comes out; he helps people. There are so many people that cannot do it on their own. He has always served this community with a smile, and I think what the people of the town is doing to this man is just horrid.”
Resident Michael Jacobsen said Franklin was one of the first people he and his wife spoke to after moving to Carolina Shores.
“His friendliness is the face for us of Carolina Shores,” he said.
As the community ages, “We’re all getting a little rickety,” Jacobsen said. “And what Jerry does for us is facilitate our lives. I’ve seen him do so many good things for people. What kind of policy would not allow him to help people in need? It’s sickening — it doesn’t make any sense.”
Several other residents spoke as well.
“I’ve never seen a man so happy to work in garbage,” one man said, drawing laughter and applause.
Resident Karen Fox said she would think the town would want more employees like Franklin.
As a general rule, town board members don’t respond to residents during public comment.
But responding to the Beacon’s query about the matter in December, Carolina Shores Mayor Walter Goodenough said the matter is a personnel issue between Franklin and his supervisor, Donlon.
Goodenough said Franklin had been taking trash out of people’s vehicles.
“His job description doesn’t entitle him to do that,” Goodenough said. “He’s been told a number of times not to do that.”
Goodenough said Waste Management pays Franklin’s salary as part of an agreement with the town.
Donlon said “everybody agrees (Franklin) does a wonderful job.”
He also cited liability concerns as well as “people popping their trunk expecting valet garbage” service at the recycling center.
He said the town just asks people to request help if they need it.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.