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February 10, 2020

No. 2 county administrator abruptly placed on leave

Deputy County Administrator Catherine “Katie” Heritage
We have been informed she has been placed on administrative leave, pending the county administrator’s actions. We’re going to be informed of his final actions Thursday.
— Supervisor Chris Granger
Catherine M. “Katie” Heritage
• Age: 57

• Home: Near Orlean

• Work: Deputy county administrator, 2008 to present; assistant county administrator, 2003 to 2008; senior court services officer/director, Fauquier County Adult Court Services Office, 1996 to 2003.

• Salary: $156,679

• Education: Bachelor’s degree, English, George Mason University, 1985; law degree, George Mason University; master’s degree, public administration, George Mason University.

• Organizations: Member/past president, Warrenton Rotary Club; member, Virginia Local Government Managers’ Association; past president, Virginia Criminal Justice Association; in 1998, Mrs. Heritage received the criminal justice association’s distinguished service award; Virginia State Bar.

• Family: Husband, Dr. Douglas E. Heritage.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
In an unprecedented move, Fauquier County government’s long-time No. 2 administrator last week got placed on administrative leave.

Deputy County Administrator Catherine M. “Katie” Heritage’s suspension apparently took effect Friday.

Mrs. Heritage, 57, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Her supervisor, County Administrator Paul S. McCulla refused to discuss the abrupt action.

Out of the office Monday for personal reasons, Mr. McCulla said in a text: “I have no comment (on) any story you might be doing.”

But, the county administrator last Thursday began to notify by phone Fauquier’s board of supervisors of his decision to put Mrs. Heritage on administrative leave.

County Human Resources Director Janelle Downes on Monday did not respond to email questions regarding the deputy county administrator’s job situation or to a follow-up phone call.

Mr. McCulla had planned to inform Ms. Heritage about putting her on administrative at 4 p.m. last Thursday, according to Supervisor Chris Granger (Center District).

His 11 a.m. conversation with the county administrator regarding Mrs. Heritage lasted roughly two minutes, Mr. Granger said.

“We have been informed she has been placed on administrative leave, pending the county administrator’s actions,” he said. “We’re going to be informed of his final actions Thursday. I think he’s going to inform us of what he’s going to do.”

The board will meet Thursday, Feb. 13, in the Warren Green Building at 10 Hotel St. in Warrenton. The supervisors plan to conduct a closed session at 11:30 partly to “discuss personnel matters related to specific individuals.”

Supervisors Chris Butler (Lee) and Holder Trumbo (Scott) received a call from the county administrator last Thursday afternoon on their way back from Richmond, where they had attended local government day at the state capitol.

Mr. McCulla notified them over speaker phone of his decision on Mrs. Heritage.

“Paul gave us the heads-up that he was going to be taking a personnel action and would fill us in when (the board) got together,” Mr. Butler said.

He added: “I don’t know any details at this point. I try to steer clear of personnel issues. That’s not our purview.”

In a text, Mr. Butler also said that “all personnel matters should be directed” to Mr. McCulla.

Of Fauquier’s 700-plus employees, only Mr. McCulla and County Attorney Kevin Burke serve under individual contracts at the pleasure of the supervisors.

Mr. Trumbo declined to comment for this story.

Board Chairwoman Mary Leigh McDaniel (Marshall) and Supervisor Rick Gerhardt (Cedar Run) also declined to discuss the issue.

“This is a personnel issue,” Ms. McDaniel said in a text, referring the matter to Mr. McCulla.

Sheriff’s office and county administration representatives stressed that the case involves no potential criminal activity.

An attorney and member of the Virginia Bar, Mrs. Heritage in 1996 joined the Fauquier County Adult Court Services Office as a senior court services officer and later served as director until 2003.

That year, then-County Administrator Bob Lee hired Mrs. Heritage as an assistant county administrator. Five years later, she got promoted to deputy county administrator.

As a county administrator, Mrs. Heritage’s areas of responsibility have or continue to include emergency services, public safety, courts, social services, economic development, parks and recreation, the Warrenton-Fauquier Airport and the county landfill.

Mrs. Heritage also has overseen Fauquier’s human resources, information technology, finance and budget offices. Since 2003, she has served as the government’s public information officer and General Assembly legislative coordinator.

Mrs. Heritage staffs six local government panels, including the Fauquier County Broadband Authority, Water and Sanitation Authority/County Liaison Committee and census committee.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in English, a law degree and a master’s in public administration from George Mason University.

She and her husband Dr. Douglas E. Heritage, a retired obstetrician and gynecologist, live near Orlean.

Contact Don Del Rosso at Don@FauquierNow.com or 540-270-0300.
Member comments
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Francisco87 · May 6, 2020 at 12:02 am
If we give a small example of WordPress strategy, the customer should be able to get into their backyard for the first time and pick up what's happening at a snack. Are you getting this source. They must find what they need without doing and do the things you want without a shocking email or reading through an endless list of things.
LeeSherbeyn · February 12, 2020 at 10:29 am
I know nothing of the issue. I have known Paul McCulla and Katie Heritage for about 10 years. I worked closely with both of them as the Cedar Run Supervisor for 4 of those years. I found both to be very professional and diligent in their duties. I am very surprised to hear Mrs. Heritage was suspended or put on administrative leave. She was top notch and professional in everything she did. I am more surprised that it is put in the newspaper for all to speculate on, rather than being done internally until final decision is made, based on absolute evidence of wrongdoing. This type of publicity can ruin a person's reputation even if they are found to NOT have done what was suspected. I remember past issues with county employees and it was handled much differently and professionally.
Netnet · February 11, 2020 at 4:12 pm
I have known him for many years and Paul McCulla is one of the most ethical, fair, and methodical government servants that I know of. Can assure you, with no hesitation, that if a move of this sort needed to be made, it is legitimate and appropriate.
Truepat · February 11, 2020 at 11:40 am
It appears Mr. McCulla is following protocol and the least you can do is not formulate a hypothetical charge against either McCulla or Heritage. There are 5 Supervisors as well as the county attorney who could have stopped this action if they felt it was unnecessary.
vpaylor · February 11, 2020 at 11:13 am
I am shocked and appalled that a long time, dedicated public servant is being treated with such disregard. I am sincerely appreciative of Mrs. Heritage's service to Fauquier County, and I can only hope the County Administrator and Board of Supervisors come to their senses before their actions cause more harm to her and themselves. Mrs. Heritage and the citizens of Fauquier deserve better from their appointed and elected officials.
Yolanda Brittle · February 11, 2020 at 5:40 am
Is this The Enquirer? Very repetitive lengthy “news”. Hopefully, all involved will make the right decisions, when the time comes to do so.
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