Ex-SE Volusia ad authority director informs county in writing he believes two staffers were wrongfully terminated

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. -- Carl Watson, the former executive director of the Southeast Volusia Advertising Authority, sent an email to County Manager Jim Dinneen on Monday saying he believes two staffers who worked for him were wrongfully terminated after he resigned.

"It has come to my attention that two employees of the Southeast Volusia Advertising Authority, Ms Sherry Hendershot and Ms Myriah Chandler, were terminated by the county because of receiving pay raise recommendations by me," Waton wrote in an email addressed to County Manager Jim Dinneen. "I feel it is important to make public record of my justification for making those recommendations."

And Watson took issue with the county's public claims that raises he gave to Hebndershot and Chandler were too high and done without the knowledge of the SVAA board.

"When preparing the recommended 2015-2016 annual budget, I realized that both employees were below the basic county pay scales for their job descriptions and therefore recommended their pay be raised to the minimum starting salary for each position," Watson said, emphasizing, "It is not true that I did not consult the board because I did meet with Mr Tom Clapsaddle, who was chairman of the SVAA board at the time, prior to adding the recommended salaries to the budget."

Watson said not only did he apprise Clapsaddle of the raises, but took the extra step of showing him the "back-up documentation for county employee salaries" and that "Clapsaddle agreed that the increase was justified" for both employees.

Watson resigned June 16, but made it effective the end of that month so he could shepherd the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, that begins Oct. 1.

Clapaddle resigned on June 16 as well, effective the end of that afternoon's board meeting. And the proposed raises for Hendershot and Chandler were included in the "board book" that is part of the packet board members receive at their meetings.

Hendershot and Chandler were fired Thursday afternoon at the SVAA's New Smyrna Beach Visitors Center while the council was still in eion in DeLand, minus one elected council member who stepped off the dais -- Deb Denys.

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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.