Confusion surrounds the recent departure of Hardeeville Fire Chief Dan Morgan -- the interim city manager insists he has taken a leave of absence, but other city officials say he has resigned.
Attempts this week to reach Morgan for comment were unsuccessful.
Capt. James Marshall of the fire department said that Morgan, who served as chief since 2005, was no longer employed with the city.
City attorney Tom Johnson said Morgan resigned in early March. If so, he would be the third top administrator to resign since February, following the city manger and the police chief.
But interim city manager Rose Dobson-Elliott maintains that Morgan is still employed by the city and is simply taking paid time off. She said confusion about his absence is the work of the "rumor mill."
"I can't do anything about this street talk," she said. "People have a lot of time on their hands, and just with everything that's going on here, have nothing better to do than sit and talk."
Dobson-Elliott said she was surprised Morgan requested leave, adding that the timing was strange given the resignations last month by the city manager and police chief. She said she did not know when Morgan is expected to return.
City Councilman Sal Arzillo said Dobson-Elliott may be keeping the door open for Morgan, but he does not think the former chief will return.
"Maybe the city manager has wishful thinking that he'll come back," Arzillo said. "My understanding is that he did resign."
On Feb. 6, Bob Nanni became the fifth city manager to leave Hardeeville since 2008 and has declined to comment on his resignation.
On Feb. 24, Richard Nagy resigned as chief of police for what he called "professional reasons."
Nagy declined to comment on Morgan's departure.
Mayor Bronco Bostick said he heard the chief was taking paid time off but was unsure of Morgan's status. He deferred questions to the interim city manager.
Dobson-Elliott said she has not had time to advertise the police chief position, which is being filled temporarily by former Jasper County sheriff's deputy Sam Woodward. City Council has not directed her to advertise the city manager post, she said.
Senior Capt. Clyde Thomas is serving as acting fire chief, Dobson-Elliott said.
Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.
- Hardeeville city manager resigns; 5th to leave since 2008, February 7, 2014: http://bit.ly/1iLGwsG
- Former Hardeeville chief says SLED investigating possible retaliation, March 5, 2014: http://bit.ly/1kQHrbi
- Hardeeville city attorney resigns after dispute with mayor Bronco Bostick, June 20, 2013: http://bit.ly/1dycgfK