Business owners fed up with county manager's antics

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email

QUITMAN COUNTY, GA (WXTX) -  Len Shoemaker, owner of a Georgetown scrap metal yard, says he plans on suing the Quitman County Commission and the county manager.

Shoemaker, along with Ray Weeks, a local gas station owner, have received notices that they need to put up pricey fences around their businesses.

Shoemaker says he received a notice that he was in violation of the county's zoning ordinance because he didn't have a fence. He's had several estimates done for the job- with a price tags around $40,000. He says that's enough to put him out of business.

When Shoemaker's wife went to ask for a copy of the county's zoning laws, he says the county manager, Larry Clark, crossed the line.

"He blew up in my wife's face, just went totally crazy on her, shoved his chair back against the wall, jumped across the desk. He had her backing up, he had her fearing that he would hit her at any time. Spit was coming out of his mouth while he was screaming at her, landing on her face," Shoemaker told WXTX in an interview at his business, Deep South Recycling, Tuesday.

But this is not the first time Larry Clark's actions have raised eyebrows. Quitman County Sheriff Steve Newton has received several complaints on the county manager for stalking, making terroristic threats and damaging property.

In one case, a truck driver parked next to Clark's house told deputies the county official pointed a Tommy gun at him because his idling engine was keeping him awake. Clark allegedly admitted to having a Tommy gun but denied the incident. The GBI was brought in to investigate but Clark was never charged.

We went to Larry Clark's office Tuesday but he had gone home sick. We called his cell and went to his house but there was no answer.

Quitman County has had its fair share of political drama recently. Last year, citizens tried to oust the commission chairman, Richard Morris, from his position, claiming his actions were illegal. The petition never resulted in a special election.

Now, business owners say they'd like to see the county manager removed from office and they want answers from the county commission.

"I'm mad and I'm sad that this can go on in a community like this. I've had a number of people that tried to tell me not to come over here- that this is the government and this is the way it's always been. I didn't believe that. I didn't think that was possible," Shoemaker added.

Business owners say they have applied to speak at the next county commission meeting in March.

In a county that has few businesses, they say they don't know why they're being made to feel unwelcome.

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