MCHA Hires New Executive Director

By Benjamin Cox on May 13, 2021 at 6:33pm

The Morgan County Housing Authority has hired a new executive director. Current deputy director and interim executive director Melissa Marsh of Greenfield has been hired to take the helm officially, effective immediately.

Marsh officially replaces Debra Walter who was administrative leave in February. Walter and former finance director Mary Jo Mast were placed on administrative leave for unspecified allegations. Walters and Mast were officially dismissed by the Housing Authority in March. The information on Walter’s official misconduct has never been released publicly.

During the meeting this afternoon, the Authority Board said they had received approximately 5-8 applications for the position. The Board’s counsel, Eric Hanson of Mahoney, Silverman and Cross said that the board’s choice was obvious after looking at all of the resumes, because Marsh’s really stood out. He noted that Marsh has changed some of the office personnel and management in her time as interim director. Hanson says that Marsh has also overseen a rise in occupancy rate during her short tenure.

The board received information that the Housing Authority is currently at 97% occupancy. Hanson will be responsible for drawing up Marsh’s official contract, which will be prepared and submitted for approval next month.

In other action at the meeting, there was heated discussion between Authority Commissioner Jared Hopper and Commissioner Chair Mary English about the keeping of minutes for meetings. Hopper believes that meetings are not robust enough in keeping actions of the board, and feels that they may be in violation of the Open Meetings Act. English retorted to the criticism by saying that Hopper has repeatedly violated the OMA by revealing information that had been discussed in closed session. Attorney Hanson said that he had reviewed meeting minutes dating back to February 2nd Special Board Meeting and found them to be in compliance with the OMA requirements. The consideration of approving the minutes eventually passed 4-1, with Hopper as the lone ‘no’ vote based on his objections.

The board was informed that MCHA had hired a new book keeper, Rebekah Staka who had started within the past two weeks. In board action, the board approved a bid from Rouland’s for $39,446 to complete repairs on drainage at Walnut Court. The board also approved updates to job descriptions for the positions of Executive Director, the Deputy Director HCB Specialist, as well as a new organizational chart at the Authority.

The board is still looking to hire 2 maintenance workers for the Turner and Beecher Hi-Rises after a contract with Service Master is completed after June 18th.