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Rocky Ford fires clerk
State currently investigating unpaid ticket fees in small Screven County municipality
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Rocky Ford’s city clerk has been fired as the state continues to investigate the Screven County municipality’s finances.
Town Council voted May 6 to terminate the clerk, Beth Collins Smith.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents are looking into allegations surrounding unpaid ticket fees, Statesboro GBI Special-Agent-in-Charge Cathy Sapp said. Rocky Ford Mayor Jimmy Hankinson said state add-on fees for tickets issued have not been paid since 2003. He would not disclose the amount of money alleged to be missing.
In a letter dated May 7, addressed to Smith,  Hankinson announced Smith’s termination after a vote at the May 6 council meeting.
“It is my duty to inform you that the Rocky Ford Town Council voted … to terminate your employment effective as of that date,” the letter reads. “While the town council has the right to remove you at any time for any reason or no reason at all as an ‘at will’ employee, I will tell you that the Council has lost confidence in your ability to properly carry out your duties as city clerk and clerk of the municipal court in part due to your inaccurate reporting to the town council of the town’s financial condition.”
Smith assisted Rocky Ford Police Chief Pat Kile in keeping financial records for the police department, Hankinson said.
Smith did not return calls seeking comment made to her home or cell phone Wednesday. Hankinson declined Monday to comment further on the termination or the investigation.
Mike Arrieta, who is employed as the city clerk for the Town of Portal, said he is serving as interim city clerk for Rocky Ford.
Arrieta, who has retained his position in Portal, also works at the Rocky Ford Town Hall weekdays from 6 to 8 p.m. 
Sapp said the investigation into the matter is ongoing and “is still in the audit stage.” No arrests have been made in the case.

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