Latest News, WV Press InSight Videos

New Parkersburg mayor dismisses finance director

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Ashley Flowers was dismissed Monday from her job as city finance director.

“Ms. Flowers was terminated today,” said Flowers’ attorney Ben Salango on Monday evening.

Salango offered no other comment when contacted on Monday evening.

“This was employment issues, on the job,” he said.

Colombo, who previously served as mayor from 1998 to 2005, was sworn into office during a special meeting of City Council Thursday after being selected by a 7-1 vote of council to complete the unexpired term of former Mayor Bob Newell. Newell retired June 3 on the eve of a hearing before a three-judge panel to determine whether he could remain in office after being accused of having an affair with Flowers and misusing public funds in the process.

Flowers admitted to the affair but said she broke no laws. Newell would neither confirm nor deny the affair, but also maintained he hadn’t broken the law.

Monday was Colombo’s first regular work day back in office, with the Municipal Building closed on Friday in honor of the 152nd anniversary of West Virginia’s founding.

“We had a discussion about mid-afternoon today (Monday) and reviewed the files and the reasons for dismissal, and we did find grounds she could be dismissed as finance director and also dismissed from any other involvement that she would have with the City of Parkersburg,” Colombo said Monday. “We emailed her attorney and her, and proper notification will also follow by certified mail or letter.”

Multiple City Council members have called for Flowers’ dismissal, with Councilman Jim Reed citing financial errors and misconduct. City Attorney Joe Santer said he believed there were grounds to terminate her while he was serving as acting mayor, prior to Colombo’s appointment.

Colombo declined to go into more specifics about the grounds for Flowers’ dismissal Monday evening, but said he would make public records available when he could.

Colombo said it was important to take action on the matter as soon as possible.

“I think this is one of the open wounds that we talked about, part of the healing processes between council, the mayor’s office and the public,” he said.

Flowers worked in the Finance Department for several months in 2013 before taking another job. Prior to returning as finance director in December of that year, she served one day as assistant finance director, city officials said.

That would have entitled her to return to the department if dismissed as finance director, but Colombo said there were enough grounds to dismiss her from the city entirely.

Salango has filed a claim against the city’s insurance, claiming Newell threatened Flowers with termination for discussing their affair at work. He has also said his client experienced retaliation after admitting to the relationship.

To read more from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel, subscribe here.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter