HIGH SPRINGS ‒ Tensions flared at the April 25 High Springs City Commission meeting as community members voiced their concerns over the sudden dismissal of former Utility Director and Assistant City Manager Thomas Henry by new City Manager Jeremy Marshall.

During the Public Comment portion of the meeting, a number of attendees expressed their support for Henry and his contributions to the city. Comments were unanimous in praising Henry's work ethic and dedication to the community.

Chrissy Swilley, a commenter at the meeting, addressed potential misinformation surrounding Henry's dismissal. “He has never once been written up or received a negative employment evaluation from this administration,” said Swilley. “He was nominated by this current Commission to be part of a trio providing coverage of City Manager duties until a suitable City Manager could be hired.

“He was not compensated for these additional duties, nor did he request them. He did them so that he could help the City continue to move in a forward direction.”

Mayor Katherine Weitz read a letter during the public comment session, which highlighted concerns about City Manager Marshall's decision to remove Henry from his position. The letter from former High Springs Mayor and City Commissioner Scott Jamison and wife Lynn Jamison criticized Marshall for breaking his promise not to make personnel changes within the first six months of his tenure and expressed dismay at the removal of an experienced employee like Henry, especially during challenging times for the City.

“We met with Jeremy Marshall on Tuesday, April 23, to welcome him and ask him about the removal of Thomas Henry from his position as Director of Public Works the morning of the fifth day on the job, before he even knew all the names of his employees. He removed Mr. Henry, one of the best employees with 33 years of experience in the field, an employee who at every meeting one or more of our Commissioners had only positive things to say about him and actually had glowing remarks about how he got things done.”

“Need I remind everyone Mr. Marshall said he would not make any personnel changes for six months when he was interviewed for the job? We are sick that he would remove an exemplary employee like Mr. Henry when we are in such tumultuous times. We will email each of you additional details about our meeting in the next couple of days. We were appalled by some of Mr. Marshall’s responses and his complete lack of emotional engagement. We are quickly losing confidence in Mr. Marshall’s ability to be able to lead us through these very difficult times. Respectfully, Scott and Lynn Jamison.”

Brad Riddle, Chair of the High Springs Historic Preservation Board, expressed shock and disappointment at Henry's dismissal, emphasizing Henry's effectiveness and the positive impact he had on various city initiatives. “I gotta say I was shocked… Thomas was awesome. I was able to get a lot of things accomplished through Thomas that I wasn’t able to before… I would love to see Thomas come back.”

Despite the outcry from the community, City Manager Jeremy Marshall was not present at the meeting to address the issue due to a prior commitment. However, it was noted that even if he had been present, he might not have commented due to the sensitive nature of the personnel matter.

In response to the comments, Mayor Weitz refrained from offering her own opinion but expressed gratitude for the community's input.

Henry's abrupt departure has left some community members questioning the rationale behind the decision and has raised doubts about the new city manager and the future of the the city's leadership.

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