Wilson County Schools Director admitted in an open meeting Thursday to having consumed alcohol at a local establishment and then driving his county-assigned vehicle.
During the Budget Committee of the Wilson County Commission, District 15 Commissioner and Chair Mike Justice asked Dr. Tim Setterlund to have a seat after the committee approved two board of education financial resolutions.
“I’d rather ask this question in a smaller group than in a larger group,” Justice said. “I’ve been charged with asking a question by a group of people, and I guess they came to me because they know I don't have much of a filter sometimes. But I do have to ask it.
“First of all, have you removed your sticker off of your county school board truck?"
“Yes,” Setterlund replied, to which Justice asked, “Why?”
“It was not pretty.”
Justice then explained that the stickers were placed on county vehicles “some time ago because we, as county commissioners, were getting a hard time about our vehicles and what we doing in them. We even made the mayor stick one on his vehicle, and it's not pretty either.”
Justice then stated that personally he would like to see the sticker back on Setterlund’s Ford Expedition. “I guess we can go to the school board if we have to ask them that.”
Then Justice asked his second question.
“If I ask you have you been to a local establishment during school hours in a county vehicle and drank alcohol. If I said these people have a videotape of that, have you sat and drank beer in a local establishment and left in a county vehicle?”
Setterlund simply answered, “Yes.”
Justice said, “On a snow day. I believe it was a snow day. But you just said yes, right?”
“I’ve been in an establishment and had a beer,” Setterlund said.
“And got in a county vehicle and drove off?” Justice asked.
“Yes,” replied Setterlund.
“I honestly at this point don't have anything else to say to you,” Justice said. “I was approached with that today, and I don't understand it, I guess. I guess that's all I have for now. Thanks.”
Following the meeting, The Wilson Post contacted Setterlund to ask him about the exchange.
The director of schools who started his position just over six months ago in July 2013 said in his mind, there was nothing wrong with what he did.
“I didn’t think it would be a problem,” Setterlund said. “My contract reads that that vehicle is provided for my personal use, so I use that vehicle like I would my personal vehicle.”
When asked by The Post if his contract contains a moral clause or anything about drinking alcohol and driving the county vehicle, Setterlund said, “The only stipulation in the contract is that if I take it out of town on a vacation or something like that that I reimburse the county for mileage.”
The Post contacted Board of Education Chair Don Weathers, who was out of town on business, and had just learned of the exchange.
The Post asked Weathers if the board had considered the possibility of liability on the part of the county when it included the clause allowing the director of schools to use the county vehicle as a personal vehicle.
“On that clause, it's been in every director of school's contract that I have ever been a part of,” Weathers said. “As far as I am aware, the director has always been afforded a car or a vehicle, and that it was always acceptable for them to use it for personal reasons. That's the only answer I know of there.”
Weathers said that the board’s legal counsel, local attorney Mike Jennings, “didn't see any reason to exclude that or word it in any other way, because that it was put in and our counsel is always part of the review process.”
Jennings said that he was not asked by the Board of Education to review Setterlund’s contract before he signed it.
“However, once I saw Dr. Setterlund’s contract after he was hired and I asked for it for my files, it seemed similar to those of Dr. Jim Duncan and Mike Davis, the previous two directors, as well as others that I have seen,” Jennings said.
Correspondent Amelia Morrison Hipps may be contacted a firstname.lastname@example.org.