NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Nacogdoches County commissioners met for several hours Tuesday before deciding the future of a suspended exposition center manager. After five hours, primarily in executive session meetings, Nacogdoches County Commissioners voted to reassign Bill Plunkett to become the manager of Lake Naconiche.
County Judge Joe English made the following motion. " The investigation, the allegations against Bill Plunkett are now closed. With that being said I would like to make a motion, upon the request of Bill Plunkett, to reassign Bill Plunkett from being expo manager to the position of Lake Naconiche parks and lake manager position."
"About three weeks ago this opportunity was made available to me to consider as as everybody knows I like a challenge," said Plunkett.
Located 13 miles northeast of the city of Nacogdoches, Lake Naconiche is primarily a flood prevention reservoir and is slated to open in September. A Texas peace officer will be required to supervise swimming, fishing, and boating regulations.
Plunkett fits the bill as a veteran of the Houston Police Department.
Commissioner Jerry Don Williamson cast the only opposing vote He, along with a packed courtroom of Plunkett supporters wanted the well liked manager back at the expo.
"I could not let this opportunity to by and not stand up for him as far as the job he's done for this county," said Wayne Mason, Agriculture Chairman for the Pineywoods Fair.
"I believe in Mr. Plunkett when we hired him and nothing has led me to believe otherwise," said former Nacogdoches County commissioner Alvin Stanaland.
The support caused tears to well up in Plunkett's eyes. " I'm overwhelmed. I think it's great I got this much support and people take off from work and close their businesses. I'm thankful," said Plunkett.
Plunkett had been on administrative leave since August, when an investigation began. The purpose of the investigation has never been released, but several weeks ago the investigation came to an end, clearing Plunkett of any wrongdoing.
The turmoil began when an entertainment promoter was denied a booking date. He filed a lengthy open records request surrounding Plunkett's dealings with other promoters. In August Plunkett was suddenly placed on paid administrative leave. What followed was a 10 month investigation of undisclosed allegations led by a special prosecutor. A Texas Ranger met with commissioners as recent as today. His finding released two weeks ago cleared Plunkett of any wrongdoing.
Earlier Tuesday, a packed Nacogdoches County Commissioners Court of Bill Plunkett supporters met the eyes of commissioners.
"On behalf of Bill Plunkett, I want to say that he needs to be reinstated or at least offered the reinstatement to his position," said James Weatherly. "And ya'll owe him an apology, his family an apology, and the community."
"This has cost us as taxpayers a good bit of money," said Jack Flores. "And if you people would do the right thing, you would forfeit your paychecks to that amount of money refunded to the county. If you would do the right thing."
"For someone to walk on my integrity like that, it upsets me," Plunkett said. "And I didn't say anything and now I am."
After hearing the comments, the court immediately went into executive session. Just before 5 p.m., Plunkett and his attorney, Tim James, joined the meeting. Plunkett chose to keep it in executive session upon the advice of his attorney.
Plunkett came out around 5 p.m. and the court remained in executive session until 6:30 for voting to reassign him to a new County role.
Could Plunkett have returned to the expo center as so many of his supporters want? Even his attorney implied after so many unfounded allegations, rumors and speculations it would place continued hardship upon his client.
"If you go back to the expo and you get back into the same people out there, same problems all over again. Why bother?," said Tim James, Plunkett's attorney.
"The court has graciously allowed me to move over to the lake which still has the confidence of the court and my abilities as a department head," said Plunkett.
Plunkett and his family are relieved a solution to a very long ordeal was reached.