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Culpeper town manager fired; PIO reinstated (updated)

Former Town Manager Kimberly Alexander in happier times. Alexander was fired Tuesday by the Culpeper Town Council
The Culpeper Town Council voted 5-2 to terminate the employment of Town Manager Kimberly Alexander following a 75-minute closed-door special meeting Tuesday night.

Councilman Ben Phillips made the motion to fire Alexander and councilman Bobby Ryan seconded it, according to town records. Councilmen Frank Reaves, Jim Risner and Billy Yowell supported the motion. Vice Mayor Mike Olinger and councilman David Lochridge voted against the motion.

Mayor Chip Coleman and councilman Dan Boring were unable to attend the meeting.

Alexander, who served just 17 months, will receive six months severance pay, per her contract. Her annual salary was about $118,500.

Council named Assistant Town Manager Chris Hively interim town manager. He will be in charge of the day-to-day business of the town until a new town manager is hired.,
Hively was named assistant town manager several months ago. He was hired in April 2009 as environmental services director and currently manages to town's water and wastewater operations, according to a town press release issued Wednesday morning.
Hively holds an engineering degree from Virginia Military Institute.

“We have many issues facing us, including creation of a new budget for the next fiscal year,” said Hively in the release. “We must move forward to better serve our citizens.”
Tuesday night's session was the fourth one in recent months, all believed to have dealt at least in part with Alexander's job performance.

“It's very disheartening,” said Alexander, reached by phone Tuesday night. “You try to do the right thing and sometimes you can't win no matter how hard you try.
“I served at the pleasure of the council and they were certainly within their rights to fire me.”

Alexander said she would be issuing a statement in the near future and that she hopes to again serve another locality as manager.

Alexander was hired from a pool of 51 applicants in June 2011 and began work on August 15, 2011. She had previously served as town manager of Dumfries from 2009-2011. She replaced retiring town manager Jeff Muzzy. She was the youngest town manager in Culpeper history.

Alexander had initiated an investigation of Culpeper Town Police Captain Chris Settle several months ago and placed him on paid administrative leave. There were more than 30 allegations of wrongdoing, but an independent investigator hired by the town found only three of the allegations were valid. Alexander was planning to make a decision this week on discipline for Settle.

Settle has been with the Culpeper Police Department for more than 10 years.

Alexander said in the Tuesday phone call that she felt the Settle investigation was a prime reason for her termination.

Town Public Information Officer Wally Bunker resigned abruptly last Wednesday. He reportedly disagreed with Alexander on the way in which the Settle investigation was being conducted. Bunker, the town PIO since April 2008, was reinstated to his position Wednesday.

Culpeper Times sent e-mails to all nine council members Tuesday night and three of them responded with brief statements to the effect that the town would now move forward with Hively until a replacement for Alexander could be found.

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