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Gravel supplier out due to tie to Waller

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DIANA BUCKLEY
Ellis County Press
WAXAHACHIE - Marion Sand and Gravel was removed from a list of suppliers just before a vote of approval during last Wednesday's meeting of the commissioners' court. The business owner is a county employee.

'I want to make a change,' said Commissioner Charles Waller, Pct. 3, after Purchasing Director Hanna McCleary presented the list to commissioners.

'Marion Sand and Gravel is no longer eligible to bid with the county.' McCleary said the companies listed were those with existing bids in place for 1999 or 2000.

'Because he's now working for the county, (Marion) is no longer eligible to sell product to the county,' Waller said later. 'Is that simple enough?'

Precinct 2 Commissioner Jerry Holland recused himself from the same vote because relatives own Ennis Office Supply, also on the list.

'I will not take part in any discussion,' Holland said.

Waller said the purchasing director automatically renews existing contracts and commissioners do not see the list until court convenes.

'She started three or four months ago getting people to sign up,' Waller said. 'At that time, he wasn't even thinking about coming to work for the county.'

Some Ellis County officials had expressed concern when Buster Marion and Jerry Marion were hired, alleging the two were related to Waller. But Waller said they are not.

'My wife is kin to Jerry's wife,' Waller explained. 'Fourth cousins.'

Waller said Jackie Miller, Sr., Precinct 3 commissioner-elect, had hired Buster Marion as head mechanic, replacing Eddie Vaughn. 'Eddie Vaughn is taking Jackie's place as coordinator,' said Waller.

Buster had been collecting a social security disability pension for about two years after complications from foot surgery rendered him unable to continue in business.

Buster said his pension would be discontinued because of his employment.

Buster worked in a similar capacity, as shop foreman, for the City of Waxahachie for 9 and a half years.

'After I got fired, I went back in business until the surgery,' he recalled.

Buster said his letter of dismissal from the city alleged he gave a woman a job reference, but he suspected other reasons for the action.

'I tried to go through the whistle blower's act,' he said. 'I hired a lawyer. But you can't beat city hall.'

Buster went on to say he sees no reason to rehash old issues with the City of Waxahachie.

'Let's just leave bygones be bygones,' he said. 'Let sleeping dogs lie.'

Waller said he did hire Jerry Marion as a laborer for the county.

'Two guys were hired to replace people who are retiring,' he said.

An anonymous call to the Ellis County Press had alleged Jerry was involved in a lawsuit with a previous employer. Waller said he had no knowledge of such a suit.

'I know he's not a convicted felon,' Waller said.

'I know nothing about his personal life. You can't even get that information from previous employers.'

Waller indicated he was disappointed to learn of the questions raised relating to the employment of the two men.

'I've run a good clean operation the last four years,' he said.

'I have no reason not to. I tried to hire good qualified people. It is hard to hire good people for the rate the county pays.'

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