A Carroll County Assistant Administrator has taken out an emergency protective order against Pine Creek Supervisor Bob Martin, alleging physical and verbal harassment. Martin denies those accusations.
On May 16, Carroll County Assistant Administrator Nikki Shank filed the complaint. Shank’s complaints are alleged to have occurred on two different dates, March 26 and May 15.
“On March 26, Mr. Martin grabbed my arm so tightly it was painful and I was concerned he had bruised me,” Shank’s complaint alleges. “It was painful and I was concerned he had bruised me.”
Shank also alleges that Martin came to her office on May 15 very upset. She said he made several accusations against her.
“He stated that, ‘I was not elected to the Board of Supervisors to sit in the bleachers, I will be on the floor playing one way or another. That is not a threat, it is a promise,’” Shank said in the complaint. “I considered this a threat, based on his accusations.”
In the complaint, Shank alleges Martin also called her while enraged. She goes on to say he made several additional accusations and verbally abused her.
“He stated, ‘A liar is a liar and a hypocrite is a hypocrite and do you want me to come tell you to your face?,’” Shank said in the complaint. “I then explained that he was contacting me at work and harassing me. He also stated in that conversation, ‘I don’t blame you for being concerned.’ When the call was ended Mr. Martin stated, ‘I will talk to you later young lady.’ The rage and aggression Mr. Martin expressed on the phone concerns me greatly. I am fearful of any actions he may take as a result of his rage.”
Martin also received a letter from Carroll County Administrator Gary Larrowe on Thursday barring him from coming upon or remaining on the Carroll County Administrative offices located on the second floor of the Carroll County Governmental Center.
“Should you have public business to conduct in the aforesaid areas of the County Governmental Center, you are directed to contact me directly, at least 24 hours in advance, so that proper arrangements may be made for your visit,” Larrowe wrote in the letter. “This notice shall remain in effect during the term of the emergency protective order or any similar order subsequently entered by the Court, or until you are otherwise notified by me in writing. Should you come upon the above areas without previous approval you will be considered to be trespassing and may be subject to criminal sanctions.”
The protective order was set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on May 22. Martin said he’s not yet received a subpoena, but he’s been told there will be a court hearing in Carroll County General District Court on May 22 at 10 a.m.
In an interview with The Carroll News, Martin said not only has he never grabbed Shank’s arm, he said he has never made any physical contact with her to his knowledge. He doesn’t deny having a conversation with Shank in her office and addressing several concerns he has with the county’s administration.
He said the comment about not sitting in the bleachers was just a general statement, not a threat.
“There are six players on the floor at one time in the Board of Supervisors’ basketball game. It is an old basketball expression,” Martin said. “I didn’t come to sit in the bleachers. I come to play coach and that is what was meant by it.”
Martin said he didn’t go to the county administrator’s office on May 15 to see Shank. He said he entered the county complex on business. He said he initially came to go to the school board office with a progress report on a recreational trail grant of $97,000 he has been working on for more than three years.
To save money, he said he approached Larrowe several months ago to see if Carroll County PSA Engineer Jessica Montgomery would look at the project design and sign off on it. Martin said Larrowe told him at the time he probably needed to get surveyors to work on the project, and then an engineer could sign off on it. So Martin said he went to Larrowe’s office that day to see if Montgomery would be available now. Larrowe wasn’t available, but Shank was, he said.
A few minutes later, Martin said Larrowe returned from a meeting and said something that struck him as very odd.
“One of the first things out of Gary’s mouth was, ‘Maybe you need to get a concealed weapons permit like some of us in the office do.’ He looked over at Mrs. Shank and grinned,” Martin said. “I didn’t take it as a threat, but it didn’t make any sense. It didn’t fit in with the conversation. Did I take it as a threat? No. I just passed it off. I downplayed it, but there had been no screaming or anything at that point.”
A little later, Martin said Larrowe told him that Montgomery was too busy filling in with inspections on the Fancy Gap water and sewer projects while a conflict of interest issue was being resolved. Larrowe then left for another meeting. At that point, Martin said Shank asked him how working on the board of supervisors has been working out for him.
“Well, don’t ask me if you don’t want me to tell you. She brought it up. I told her I have a major concern,” Martin said. “The major concern is I am tired about reading about stuff in the local newspapers before it has even been presented to me. And I didn’t stop there. I gave specific examples.”
Among those, Martin said, was an article with supervisor Phil McCraw about the school budget that came out before he said supervisors had all the information. Martin said he also told Shank he was upset to read in a paper that the $1.6 million offer from the Carroll County IDA for the Kentucky Derby buildings had been turned down, but leasing was still an option.
“There wasn’t anything said about leasing to us. You know how much I have received on the status since then? Zero,” Martin said. “They want me to stand for $1.6 million from the taxpayers, but they can’t even give me a simple e-mail about the details of a $1.6 million offer. I said for $1.6 million I expect to get an e-mail. I’m not denying the conversation with Nikki, but she brought it up. And I told her I expect them to communicate things to me.”
The Pine Creek supervisor said he has other problems with the county’s administration. Besides those examples he addressed with Shank, he said he was bothered by a December 16 meeting that was set up for the three new incoming supervisors – himself , Joshua Hendrick and Phil McCraw – and two of the old supervisors. Martin claims that before the meeting, those attending were informed rooms had been reserved in Christiansburg at a hotel, and that the group would be meeting for two days.
“I called Josh and said, ‘I am not staying in no motel for this. I said why can’t we meet in Carroll County?’ The taxpayers are not going to pick up my bill, so I drove down on Friday and then again on Saturday, and Josh said he wouldn’t either, that he would be driving,” Martin said. “We get down there and the first thing they said was the reason they were having this is three of us haven’t been sworn in yet, and by only having two of the old board members there they don’t have to advertise it. And by not having it in Carroll County, the press or nobody else can figure it out. And I am sitting here thinking, ‘OK, this is like a secret thing.’”
Martin said Shank never admitted mistakes or never said administration needed to improve its communication, so he left. The supervisor said he believes four of the board members are being communicated with, but that he and Hendrick are being left out. For example, Martin said after the May 14 meeting adjourned, Hendrick left the building, but Martin stayed for a few minutes to talk to some concerned citizens. He said he noticed the other four supervisors huddled with Larrowe. He believes Larrowe knew about the Franklin County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s ruling on the conflict of interest matter with the Fancy Gap project on Monday night, but never shared that info with Martin or Hendrick.
“I maintain they are breaking law after law. When I left you had four supervisors huddled around Gary Larrowe,” Martin said. “I think if a meeting is adjourned, then it is adjourned, they need to split up and go, not have their little circle of four members around talking to the county administrator.”
Martin said he has been on the defensive thus far, but he maintains he hasn’t done anything wrong. In addition, he said he will be going on the legal offensive soon.
“I will have an attorney or attorneys present on Tuesday (May 22). You can allege anything. The only thing I have ever wanted was the county administrator’s office to be run in an open fashion where you didn’t have six people meeting borderline illegally, planning out everything so every vote is 6-0 for four years,” Martin said. “I just want it open, run in a business-like manner and courteous. The only reason I ran (for office) is because things are so under the table and secretive.”