Commissioners hire programs coordinator for Southeast Expo Center

Nov. 1—Pittsburg County commissioners hired Jerry Lynn Wilson as the new programs coordinator for the Southeast Expo Center.

"I'm looking forward to working with the county to accomplish great things," Wilson said after the commissioners hired her for the post.

Wilson works in Pittsburg County Assessor Michelle Fields' office and previously managed the Expo Center for 16 years for the city of McAlester.

She is ready to once again come onboard at the Expo Center as soon as she completes her time in the assessor's office.

"I handed in my two weeks notice," said Wilson, who expects to become the Expo Center programs coordinator in mid-November. Shannon Stacey is the Expo Center facilities manager.

Commissioners interviewed Wilson, listed only as "Candidate A" on their meeting agenda. Commissioners conducted the interview in a closed door executive session during their regular Monday meeting. They did not vote on the Expo Center hiring until after they completed routine closed-door evaluations of two other county employees, and then reconvened in open session for the Expo Center vote.

The position at the Southeast Expo Center became open when Krystal Bess-Romine resigned in June to accept a position with U.S. Foods.

Casidhe Morgan, who worked in the commissioners' office, stepped in to assist in the role at the Expo Center after the position became open. She recently stepped down from that post and now works for District 3 County Commissioner Ross Selman at his District 3 field office.

Pittsburg County Commission Chairman/District 2 Commissioner Kevin Smith said Wilson was the only candidate commissioners interviewed to fill the Expo Center position. He said they did not advertise for applicants to fill the slot prior to hiring Wilson.

"We had an opening and she came and talked to us," Smith said. "Lord knows she has more experience than anybody."

Smith said commissioners felt like she was the one to hire. "We had an opportunity," Smith said.

Joining Smith in the unanimous vote to hire Wilson were Selman and District 1 Commissioner Charlie Rogers.

Wilson managed the Expo Center for the city of McAlester for 16 years when former McAlester City Manager Pete Stasiak terminated Wilson from her job as Southeast Expo Center manager and simultaneously terminated Kathy Wall from her position as McAlester Tourism director on Feb. 15, 2017.

Both employees at the time said they had no idea why they were terminated.

Later in 2017, Wilson's attorney, Warren Gotcher, said Stasiak and the city of McAlester failed to provide Wilson with a hearing prior to Stasiak terminating her from the Expo Center manager's position.

Gotcher said the only time Wilson had an opportunity to be heard was in a post-action hearing.

That's a reference to a hearing the McAlester Personnel Board held on Wilson's behalf, after she requested a public hearing regarding her termination as the Southeast Expo Center manager. The hearing occurred in March 2017 at City Hall, after Stasiak had already terminated Wilson from her position with the city.

Following the March 2017 hearing, McAlester Personnel Board members voted to recommend that Stasiak rehire Wilson and restore her job as Expo Center manager.

In a written ruling, personnel board members stated "The committee feels the city made the determination without all the evidence/facts. Our recommendation is to reinstate Jerry Lynn Wilson."

Stasiak opted not to follow the McAlester Personnel Board's recommendation and declined to reinstate Wilson to her position at the Expo Center.

Wilson said Monday she did not want to talk about her situation with the city of McAlester and preferred to look forward to working with the county as the Expo Center's programs coordinator.

Smith said the county is not concerned about what happened when Stasiak terminated Wilson, saying the county will take care of their business and let the city take care of theirs.

"It didn't have anything to do with us," said Smith.

Smith said he's looking forward to what's happening at the Expo Center.

"I'm excited to move forward at the Expo," he said.

Contact James Beaty as jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.