Decatur County employees arrested on Christmas Eve have been fired

Two employees at the Decatur County Industrial Air Park were arrested late on Christmas Eve at their workplace; they were fired Tuesday morning, according to Decatur County Administrator Gary Breedlove.

Eric Henderson Swain, the manager of the Industrial Park, and David John Knight, the supervisor of┬áthe wastewater treatment plant at the industrial park, were arrested by the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office on December 24; each was charged with one county of battery.

Swain and Knight were immediately suspended without pay following their arrest, and were terminated on Tuesday, according to County Administrator Breedlove.

Swain and Knight were both at the county’s wastewater treatment plant at approximately 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve when Decatur County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene in reference to a possible assault.

According to Breedlove, Swain and Knight had attended a “lunch get-together” organized by employees of the Industrial Park earlier that day. Apparently, the two men remained at the wastewater treatment plant and at some point had a dispute.

“The nature of the dispute was irrelevant to my decision to terminate them,” Breedlove said. “My decision was based on the fact they were arrested on county property and charged with a crime.”

Swain and Knight were both involved in the daily operation of the water and sewer system that serves the businesses located at the Industrial Park, as well as the airport, county shop and Decatur County Fire and Rescue.

Earlier in the year, Breedlove had given kudos to both men, as well as other Industrial Park employees, for being part of the overall improvement of operations at the county’s wastewater treatment plant in recent months. The county’s wastewater treatment plant, which has been undergoing major renovations over the past year, recently was given good marks on an inspection by Georgia Environmental Protection Division officials, Breedlove recently told Decatur County commissioners.

Breedlove said county officials held a contingency meeting on Friday, Dec. 26 and going forward, will utilize the services of Bill Gerber of Thomasville, Ga. company Water Solutions. Gerber is certified as a Class I operator for both water and sewer systems, the highest certification level.

“Mr. Gerber had worked with us as a consultant earlier this year after our Class II [wastewater system] operator retired in March,” Breedlove said. “We had Class III operators at the time, but a Class II or better operator is required to supervise the plant. Mr. Gerber came in on a regular basis to check the plant’s records and see how the system was being operated.”

“Gerber had worked with us on a consultant basis from March to July of this year … he actually worked at the Industrial Park previously in the 1980s, early in his career,” the county administrator said.

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