The city of West Point decided Thursday to hire Jeff Todd as its city attorney until at least the end of the year.
Todd already represents LaGrange, Hogansville, Woodbury, Gay, Warm Springs and Heard County.
Todd replaces Larry Nix, who was charged July 30 by West Point police with driving under the influence. It was his second offense; he was charged by Lanett, Ala., police in April with driving under the influence. Both are misdemeanors.
“He’s been an integral part of West Point and we are grateful for his service,” said West Point Mayor Drew Ferguson IV of Nix, who has represented the city for more than 20 years.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Larry and we hope he can return and be a productive member of the community,” Ferguson said.
The city has kept Nix on a monthly retainer, but will pay Todd on an hourly basis based on need.
Nix also had represented Lanett City Council but he was fired by the Alabama city the day after the July incident. Lanett Mayor Oscar Crowley said then the action wasn’t related to the DUIs but his overall job performance.
Ferguson said hiring a temporary attorney is similar to when the city hires an engineer for a specific project. The city names a city engineer every January, but sometimes uses other engineers for projects that come up.
Hiring Todd will give the city time to “work through the process” of whether Nix will need to be replaced permanently. There is a chance Nix could come back to the city once his legal and health issues are behind him.
Council woman Sandra Thornton asked why the city couldn’t use someone in West Point as its attorney.
“It’s really a specialized area of law,” said Councilman Ben Wilcox, who is a defense attorney. “It’s like being a doctor. It’s an easier transition for us for six months if we can just call Mr. Todd, who probably already knows the answer.”
The city already appoints – or reappoints – an attorney along with other city officers every January, so taking the matter up again at that time would not be out of the ordinary.
Council also decided at its Thursday work session to charge Councilman Joe Downs with coming up with a mission statement for the Citizen’s Police Review Board. The board was created earlier this year as part of the council’s decision to allow police officers to carry Tasers.
It is believed that a mission statement would give the group focus. Council has yet to appoint anyone to the group.