What’s Going on in King George County?

by Adele Uphaus

A new Board of Supervisors took office in King George County in January. Two months later, at least four senior county employees have resigned, and until last week, the Board Chair, T.C. Collins, was acting as County Administrator.

The Board “accepted the resignation” of County Administrator Chris Miller and County Attorney Kelly Lackey at its January 2 organizational meeting, following a lengthy closed session.

According to the draft minutes for that meeting, both employees will be paid severance in a lump sum equal to six months’ salary.

Also at that meeting, Board Chair Collins announced that the board “had reached a consensus to withdraw the title of deputy county administrator from Mr. Derrick Mestler,” who held that title in addition to that of human resources director.

Now, the Board is hiring a new County Administrator, but Collins has directed the county’s human resources department not to be involved in that process.

In a February 5 email, which the Advance received through a request under the Freedom of Information Act, Collins told Mestler that “your input regarding the selection process for the next county administrator is not required.”

Collins continued, “I request that you adhere to the verbal instructions provided previously and ensure that all applicants’ information is shared with the board until the process is completed. The chair of the board will oversee reaching out to personnel for interviews. Lastly, please promptly forward any proposed questions for the county administrator candidates to me in writing.”

Collins himself was acting as County Administrator until mid-February. On February 5, he sent a memo to all county department heads, informing them that per Virginia Code, he would be taking on the duties of the daily administration of the county.

The memo references the relevant Code section, which states, “In the event that there is no chief administrative officer, it shall be the duty of the chairman or mayor, as the case may be, to see that the functions … are carried out if the governing body has not acted otherwise.”

Collins directed all department heads to “date and sign this memo, and return a paper copy by February 9, 2024, to the Administration Office.”

In other emails sent on February 5, Collins asked all department heads to furnish him with their work schedule hours “in writing each pay period” and informed all employees that, “There will be no remote work unless it is preapproved by me in writing.”

At the January 2 meeting, the Board appointed State Senator Richard Stuart to serve as interim county attorney.

According to Stuart’s contract, he is being paid a fixed fee of $138,000 per fiscal year, without benefits, and will also receive an hourly rate of $250 for trial work in the General District, Circuit, or Juvenile and Domestic Relations courts.

In addition to serving as a state senator and interim attorney for King George County, Stuart serves as county attorney for Westmoreland County.

According to the King George County website, Stuart’s son has been appointed the county’s interim director of community development—the office that oversees building inspections and planning and zoning.

In early February, the Board hired Norm Risavi—who retired in December from his position as Westmoreland County Administrator—to be a part-time “senior assistant to the board of supervisors.”

According to the job description, Risavi will be assisting in management of county operations, developing “quality relationships” with board members, providing policy and financial guidance to the board, overseeing budget development, developing agendas for board meetings, assisting in economic development strategies and projects, and undertaking “additional duties as assigned.”

The Northern Neck News reported yesterday that Risavi has also been rehired in Westmoreland County as a consultant to his replacement.

Managing Editor and Correspondent