Montgomery County, TN – When Dr. David Ripple applied for the position of Clarksville-Montgomery County Regional Planning Director in Clarksville Tennessee, he had know idea that one, he was not the first choice, and two, he was walking into the biggest controversy the Regional Planning Commission has ever seen.
Dr. Ripple, 65, was very excited about the opportunity to live in Clarksville because of it’s proximity to Evansville Indiana, where he still has a son, and where he calls home.
“I love the opportunity to come to a growing community that has so much to offer. I look forward to helping provide some direction in the way Clarksville grows and develops” Ripple said.
Ripple was not the first choice of the search committee that was formed after the retirement of David Riggins. Jason Blalock was the front runner, but after some political wrangling, he was thrown back in the pool and the committee went back and found other candidates to consider.
For the record, chairman Mike Harrison wanted Ripple all along because of his qualifications and certifications, but after being accused of doing a “poor job” according to Montgomery Mayor Carolyn Bowers, the committee began interviewing other candidates.
That’s when it all hit the fan.
Planning commission employee John Spainhoward filed a grievance against board member Mabel Larson claiming she threatened his job and accused him of writing an anonymous email that claimed Larson violated ethical standards while on the planning commission.
Welcome to Clarksville Dr. Ripple.
In an exclusive interview with Clarksville Online, I asked Dr Ripple what he thought about not being the committee’s first choice?
“Both mayors have expressed confidence in me and the job I’m expected to do.”
On the grievance that’s been dominating the news since his arrival:
“I’m not interested in delving into it, or fanning any flames at this point. It happened before I arrived and I have confidence that the commissioners will figure out how to resolve it.”
Have you spoken to Spainhoward about his grievance?
“No, and I don’t know what he wants”
Ripple: “The Regional Planning Commission is run by the planning director. We submit our budget to both governments for their approval, but ultimately I determine what we do with that money, and with the personnel that work here.” Now, I feel that the mayors deserve any information they request, and I certainly want to have a strong relationship with them, but I’m focused on handling this department, not the politics.”
Have you spoken to Mabel Larson?
What’s the first thing you want to do to get familiar with your surroundings?
“I need to get familiar with the staff, get to know the commissioners, then see what work we have before us and get going. They had good leadership here before me, and I hope to provide the same leadership moving forward. I told the committee I was committed to being here at least five years, and I look forward to that.”
The Planning Commission just recently hired a Nashville law firm to investigate the grievance of John Spainhoward, and once that’s completed, it remains to be seen just what the commissioners can actually do.
Meanwhile, we welcome Dr. David Ripple to Clarksville. As he said, “It’s one fine community you got here.