By Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times
GOOD HOPE —
Good Hope has hired a new city clerk following the resignation in recent weeks of former city clerk Lisa Dahlke and the discovery of nearly $3,000 worth of gift card purchases now being investigated by the Alabama State Ethics Commission.
Christie Chamblee was hired as the new city clerk after 11 applications were submitted and announced at the city council meeting Monday night. Mayor Corey Harbison and members of the council came to a decision after spending the latter time of the meeting discussing three candidates they felt were their top choices for the position.
“I didn’t know the three woman personally that we had it narrowed to, but they were qualified for the position,” Harbison said. “Christie seemed to have the most experience and currently works on the city park and recreation board. She keeps minutes and bookkeeping for them and has the government experience for the clerk position. I think it will be early September before she starts with us.”
Harbison said the role of a city or town clerk is more than just a bookkeeper, noting that person is also the face of the community.
“The first person a lot of people see when they move into a new city or start a business there is the city clerk,” Harbison said. “They are the face of the city. Yes, they are responsible for the day to day operation with bill paying, reconciling accounts, balance, keeping minutes at the council and commission meetings, but they also have to serve on the Alcohol Review Board, and help organize city events. This person is really involved with the community, and we’re excited to have her.”
Dahlke resigned after a three-hour executive session for good name and character at a special called meeting on July 17. Following her resignation, The Cullman Times requested receipts concerning alleged inconsistent spending by Dahlke on the city’s Lowe’s charge account.
Records show gift cards were purchased between Dec. 26, 2012 and July 6, 2013 and totaled $2,965. Among the cards purchased were 20 gift cards for Belk, worth a combined $900, and 14 for T. J. Maxx worth a combined $675.
All receipts for the gift cards had the signature of Dahlke, who claims her resignation was the result of an affair between she and Harbison, whom are both married. Dahlke served as city clerk for three years.
Harbison said he and city attorney Rita Nicholas filed an official complaint with the Alabama Ethics Commission to investigate the charges to the Lowe’s account. An ethics violation occurs when a public official or employee uses his or her position to benefit themselves individually or their family.
In other business the council:
Made a motion to move forward with the sewer line expansion for James Smith Trucking Company, utilizing a $150,000 grant from ADECA. Susan Eller abstained from voting in the matter.
Back to School Bash was successful as reported by Council member Jerry Bartlett. The city Thanksgiving meal will be the next planned event.
Council discussed implementing a four-way stop at the Mayfair Subdivision.
The next city council meeting will be Monday, August 26 at 6:30 p.m.
Tiffeny Owens contributed to this article.
Lauren Estes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-734-2131, ext. 137.