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Cooper resigns from Burgin Council

The Harrodsburg Herald of Harrodsburg, Kentucky

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City Receives Notice About Possible Conflict Of Interest

A meeting of the Burgin City Council turned dramatic on Tuesday night, with the revelation the mayor has received a letter from the State's Board of Ethics about possible ethics violations and a councilman resigning.

Councilman Chris Cooper, who has served on the council for less than a year, gave a verbal announcement of his immediate resignation at the special called meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

"I, Chris Cooper, at this present time, give up my seat on this council," he said.

Burgin City Attorney Tom Hensley advised Cooper to take a week and reconsider his resignation. If, after that time, he still wanted to resign, he should bring it back in written form.

Cooper left the meeting and could not be reached for comment.

The council had just come out of executive session where they discussed — loudly at times — possible litigation and ethics issues.

While the city attorney declined to explain the issue beyond saying no action was taken, Mayor George Hensley said it was about a possible conflict of interest violation.

"The ethics board sent us a letter that my son shouldn't be working here while I'm the mayor," said Burgin Mayor George Hensley after the meeting.

One of Hensley's initiatives since being elected mayor has been to reduce expenses. His main effort was doing away with the city's contract with Ray West for plowing the city's streets in favor of hiring contractors as needed. Cooper abstained in a vote in June to allow West's contract with the city to expire. West continues to maintain Burgin's cemetery.

In last week's meeting, Cooper took the unusual move ot asking to table the vote to approve the city's monthly expenditures, saying he didn't want to vote when the City Attorney was absent. The special meeting was called to approve the expenditures.

At last week's meeting, Cooper also suggested hiring an outside contractor to plow the city's streets, which was approved by the council. They will begin advertising for bids this week.

After the meeting, Hensley said there was no conflict of interest in his employing his son, Shane.

"He's been working for us since before I was on the council," he said.

Shane Hensley's employment with Burgin has been the subject of controversy before. In 2012, a citizen complained to the council about Shane Hensley reading city water meters as a "volunteer," citing workman's compensation issues.

Back then, City Attorney Tom Hensley explained the city contracted the management of the water department to George Hensley, and anyone working for the department were Hensley's employees, not the city's. Sexton questioned whether volunteer workers are covered by Hensley's worker's compensation and liability insurance.

"I have never stolen from or lied to this city," said George Hensley Tuesday night. Hensley has worked for the city in various capacities for over 40 years.

He attributed the recent troubles to animosity from a group of individuals he declined to name publicly.

"I've got two or three in this town causing trouble," Hensley said. "They're just jealous."

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Original Publication Date: October 22, 2015

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