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Mayor fires public works director

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The Ellis County Press

ITAL Y – Mayor Frank Jackson fired public works director Chris Metz over a 34 percent increase in city water usage, according to statements on the Italy-based Web site Neo Trib.com.

Jackson, whose position is up for re-election in May, made the firing official after a meeting with city department heads.

Metz reportedly asked for more time off when questions about sporadic water leaks were brought forward.

"I had a meeting with my department heads and explained to Mr. Metz, since there [were] so many leaks around the city all at one time, that we would give him the manpower to assist him in dealing with these issues in a timely manner," Jackson said. "However, Mr. Metz seemed to be avoiding the city’s problems by demanding more time off."

The comments to the Web site were the first public comments about personnel decisions Jackson has made since a Texas Rangers investigation was opened into municipal court clerk Susan Delephimne for allegations into questionable finances with the Italy Chamber of Commerce. Jackson recently reinstated her.

Though not part of the investigation, questions about separate allegations into Delephimine’s removal and re-selling of property from a deceased woman’s home in Italy were asked, but both officials refused to comment.

"I really wanted Chris to work out," Jackson said. "I tried to give him every opportunity to be successful in the Director of Public Works position. Like I said, it hurts me to release an employee. However, Chris was already serving an extended probation after his initial 90 day probational period. Also, we provided Chris a vehicle including gas but he was unwilling to make himself available after hours when we needed him. It forced me to make a decision and I released Chris so we could start moving forward."

Metz could not be reached for comment after requests were made to Italy City Hall.

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