After being fired as Corbin’s Director of Economic Development just a week ago, Bob Terrell has a new job – in an office just a few feet away from the old one he used to occupy.
In a sweeping move Monday, the Corbin Tourism Commission voted unanimously to hire Terrell as it’s interim executive director, while at the same time dismissing former director Bruce Carpenter and severing ties with the Corbin Industrial Development Commission (CDIC) – the board that fired Terrell just a week earlier.
“I really appreciate the confidence they’ve shown in me and it makes my heart warm to see the kind of support I’ve been given around the community,” Terrell said after the meeting. “I’ll serve and help them in any possible way.”
The vote came during a special called meeting of the Tourism Commission and was preceded by an hour and 15 minute long executive session that was closed to the public.
Carpenter refused to comment on the dismissal. He still serves as the Director for the Corbin Chamber of Commerce.
The motion to accept the changes, made by Tourism Commission member Betty Comer, also included a stipulation that a $40,000 stipend given annually to the CDIC be cut off.
Comer denied that Monday’s action was retaliation against the CDIC for Terrell’s abrupt firing. Terrell claims he was removed from his job because of disagreements with Carpenter. He’d served as Director of Economic Development since 2002. Carpenter was hired in 2004.
“Since he [Terrell] was not needed by them anymore, we felt like we’d be passing up a golden opportunity if we didn’t grab him,” Comer said. “He’s just such a wonderful person. We are just thrilled to death to have him as part of our organization.”
In an official press release issued Tuesday morning, the Tourism Commission says it never was involved in the hiring of Carpenter or any other office staff, two of which have been fired in the last year. The release says the commission is now simply refusing to recognize Carpenter as its director.
“We didn’t hire him. The CDIC hired him,” Comer said. “They didn’t ask us. They just did it. They should have asked us. We don’t tell them what to do.”
CDIC chairperson Becky Myers did not return calls seeking comment. Other members of the board have refused to comment on the situation as well.
Corbin Mayor Amos Miller would not comment specifically on decisions by either the Industrial Commission or the Tourism Commission, but did say he hoped members of both boards could restore harmony.
“As the Mayor of the City of Corbin, both of these gentlemen I consider as my friend,” he said. “But my obligation is not to take care of my friends, but to do what’s best for the city of Corbin. I hope that all of our boards will get on with the task of doing what is best for the city of Corbin.”
The release by the Tourism Commission goes on to say Monday’s action was taken in advance of an “impending vote” on a restaurant tax ordinance by the Corbin City Commission in the near future. Under current laws, 100 percent of proceeds from any restaurant tax would be administered by the Tourism Commission. City leaders say the tax is necessary to operate a new civic center, currently planned for construction along Cumberland Falls Hwy. near the Corbin Technology Center.
“A restaurant tax will be a huge benefit to Corbin’s people and the Tourism Board endorses its passage fully. Tourism has pledged to work closely with the mayor and city commissioners in the administration of the tax.”
Tourism officials say office space that was occupied by former Tourism Director Charles Houk will be used by Terrell.
Terrell said his plans are to serve as interim director for no more than six months and is still mulling a campaign for Whitley County Judge-Executive.
“I’m not the long-term answer for the Tourism job,” Terrell said. “I’m still seriously thinking about [running for Judge-Executive]. We’ll have to check out the legality of if you can be Tourism Director and still run for office. I’ll do whatever the legal, right thing is to do.”
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