M’town mum on firing of treasurer

Posted: January 15, 2014

The Winchester Star

Stacey Harrison

MIDDLETOWN — The Town Council Monday night voted 4-1 following an executive session to fire its recently hired treasurer.

Stacey Harrison, 28, began work as Middletown’s treasurer on Oct. 21. Town officials said Tuesday that they could not comment on why she was terminated.

Councilwoman Carolyn Aliff, who made the motion to fire Harrison after the executive session, declined to comment Tuesday.

Prior to coming to Middletown, Harrison worked in banking for 10 years — most recently as the manager for the Gateway Plaza branch of Union First Market Bank, just east of Winchester, for almost three years.

She succeeded Sharon K. Fadely, who worked for the town government in various positions from 2007 until mid-September, when she took a similar position in Mount Jackson.

Harrison was set to earn $43,000 per year in addition to benefits.

Mayor Charles H. Harbaugh IV said Tuesday night that he was not in favor of Harrison’s termination and that she was a good fit for the town government. He added that he felt she had done a good job working with the town’s finances.

While Harbaugh said Harrison is the first employee he’s had to fire during his nearly two years as mayor, there have been a few resignations — in addition to Fadely’s — during the past year.

Three of Middletown’s six council members have been on the board for less than a year after being appointed — and then elected on Nov. 5 — to fill out terms of former councilors.

Aliff was appointed to the panel June 10 after former councilwoman Mary Shull resigned when she moved to nearby Strasburg. George “Jay” Smith and Jeffrey Pennington were appointed to the council on Aug. 12 to fill vacancies created when Donna M.G. Gray and Clarence “Trip” Chewning resigned their seats in July for personal reasons.

Also, the town’s finances are under investigation for possible embezzlement. Sgt. F.L. Tyler, of the Virginia State Police, and Harbaugh confirmed the investigation in December and the case is still active.

Smith cast the lone vote against Harrison’s firing — Harbaugh said he did not vote because he was not needed to break a tie vote.

Smith said Tuesday that he did not think it was the right time to terminate Harrison.

While the council did not discuss a timeline for hiring a new treasurer during the meeting, Harbaugh said he hopes to fill the position as soon as possible.

Attending the meeting in the Middletown Town Office were Mayor Charles H. Harbaugh IV, Vice-Mayor John Copeland and councilors Carolyn Aliff, George Smith, Jeffrey Pennington and Thomas Simon. Councilwoman Carole Snyder was absent.

— Contact Matt Armstrong at marmstrong@winchesterstar.com