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A Town in Turmoil: Purcellville requests managerial assistance from Loudoun County

Purcellville Mayor Kwasi Fraser has seen numerous high-level town officials head for the exits this year. Times-Mirror File Photo
Events in the Town of Purcellville over the past week have caused a domino effect that is calling into question the town’s staffing levels and its ability to administer core government services.

On Sunday, after an emergency Town Council closed session on Saturday, the town issued a statement that revealed a human resources contractor hired to investigate claims of misconduct against former chief of police Cynthia McAlister has a prior criminal record -- calling into question the integrity of the investigation, according to town officials.

The contractor, Georgia Nuckolls, has not responded to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, as the events continue to unfold and administrative vacancies begin to have an effect on town management, the Times-Mirror has learned Purcellville Mayor Kwasi Fraser contacted both Loudoun County Supervisor Tony Buffington (R) and County Administrator Tim Hemstreet Sunday night to request the county's assistance with “two strong managers with human resources and project management background during this period of operational change.” Purcellville requested county personnel for the next two months.

The mayor has also asked for additional support for the Purcellville Police Department to be considered.

Buffington indicated he would like to support the town, and he has spoken with Hemstreet about a process for the Board of Supervisors' approval. Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) and Vice Chairman Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) were also included in the email request.

The town's request for county resources was confirmed through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Times-Mirror.

The town’s pressing needs for assistance comes after McAlister, who was fired following Nuckolls' investigation Nov. 3, formally notified the town she is appealing her firing on Nov. 16, Interim Town Manager Alex Vanegas said Saturday. McAlister is alleged to have acted outside the scope of her duties and run afoul of town policies and procedures, among other violations.

Adding to the ongoing saga, the town's statement on Sunday also said Nuckolls had a relationship with a town employee involved in the investigation. The identity of the town employee has not been revealed.

“With this knowledge, the town recognizes that the integrity of this investigation may be called into question, and will promptly hire an outside independent firm to audit and review the investigation,” a town statement reads. “The employee involved in the relationship will be disciplined in accordance with the town's personnel manual and procedures. Further, the town will implement measures that will govern all future contract awards, designed to prevent the recurrence of these issues.”

Town Attorney Sally Hankins said Monday she is not able to comment on the pending investigation.

Mayor Fraser did not respond Monday to the question of whether Vanegas is still in charge of day-to-day operations as interim town manager.

Nuckolls – who previously went by Georgia Herron -- plead guilty in the Onslow County, N.C., court system and was convicted on Nov. 18, 1997, of counts of felony financial card fraud, felony financial card theft, forgery of instrument, common law forgery and larceny. She was sentenced to 60 months of supervised probation.

The contract with Nuckolls was an administrative action by Vanegas and not signed off on by Town Council, according to Councilwoman Karen Jimmerson.

Saturday's emergency Town Council meeting was called with less than 14 hours public notice.

Beverly Chaisson, a former Town Council member on hand for Saturday's meeting, was surprised by the way the session was called and the ensuing confusion.

“It never would've happened unless the water tower was falling down,” said Chaisson, referring to the 12 years she served on council and the "emergency" meeting. “It just never … we always put the public's ability to know something above the town's convenience.”


Times-Mirror Managing Editor Trevor Baratko contributed to this report.

Comments


When the idea of governing is based in a “let’s clean house” mentality, this is the result.  Ineptitude at all levels, past & present, and sadly in the future most likely.  It’s not just one person, it’s the collective…including us.


Fred Smith - I couldn’t agree more!


As a resident of Purcellville since 1999, I am really ticked. Here we have 7 idiots who completely don’t know how to govern. They all followed the advise of Keli Grim in trying to clean house and what they did was end up destroying lives of hard working people. The Mayor is spineless and has no leadership qualities.
In May we need to vote the 4 out who are up for reelection Ted Greenly, Doug McCollum, Karen Jimmerson, Kwasi Fraser. I have never seen a more inept group of people. My HOA can run things better then these 7 people. Mayor Kwasi, please do us a favor and step down before you let more chaos ensue. Thank you Keli! You did great!


“caused a domino effect..” Who will be the last domino?


This reminds me of a three stooges skit with the keystone cops trying to figure this out…where is barney Fife when you need him?...you get what you vote for….


Leesburg is next.  With all these know nothings on Council trouble will follow.  And if Mr Double Talk Campbell is elected Mayor look out!  The only thing saving Leesburg is most of Council does whatever Town staff wants them to do.  The citizens have no real say but government jobs are secure, which is nice.


They should have never run Rob off, that was the beginning of all this mess that the current Council and Mayor have made.  They are ruining the town and Chief McAlister was only trying to improve the police force which desperately needs improved!


The mayor & council members admit that they’ve failed as “leaders” and will eventually cost citizens $$$.


How is pleading guilty to felony financial card fraud and felony financial card theft a misdemeanor?


I’m shocked those charges are misdemeanors and no jail time.


Mr. Mayor clearly you are in over your head.  Thanks for running off all the competent people.  Please do us all a favor and resign


Let’s not forget the council chose Alex Venegas over the “heir apparent” (that term offended them Bc they hadn’t made that decision) Danny Davis. Might of been one last favor rob did for the Town if they weren’t too dead set on doing the opposite of everything over the previously successful run on the Town. Too bad Danny has already left for greener pastures.

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