Bertie will forgive, but not forget

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Judging from what unfolded in Windsor earlier this month, the hatchet has apparently been buried.

Fortunately for members of the Bertie County Commissioners and for the county's Board of Education, the sharp instrument did not land in either's collective head.

It was a breath of fresh air on Aug. 1 in the Commissioners Room where the two boards met to iron out their differences.

These two have traveled what can best be described as a rocky road in the past, including the Commissioners ordering a $50,000 financial audit of the public school system and then slicing the identical amount from the county's education budget for 2004-05.

Despite a strained relationship, both boards stopped short of stabbing each other in the back, at least in public. Meanwhile, supporters of the respective boards openly expressed their grievances.

Proclaiming themselves "the stewards of Bertie County taxpayer money," the Board of Commissioners repeatedly questioned their elected counterparts on the School Board as well as Bertie Public School officials concerning what appeared to be questionable spending practices.

Copies of bills, from the credit cards issued to Bertie education officials, began to pop-up all over the county. Apparently, one landed in the hands of an eastern North Carolina television station. Their televised reports on the issue placed Bertie County in a bad light.

This newspaper agrees there are some questionable expenditures on those credit cards. Our main concern is an overabundance of credit card transactions for meals n the majority of which came at eating establishments in Pasquotank, Chowan, Bertie, Martin, Hertford, Washington, Pitt and Halifax counties. None were extravagant expenditures, but $30 here and $60 there doesn't take long to add up.

There was a $2,000-plus charge for a cruise aboard "The Spirit of Norfolk."

There was a $2,814.75 charge to Sprint. There was a notation on the bill which read, "Use card to get telephones turned back on for central office and all schools."

The bill listed charges for school administration trips to Denver, San Antonio, Orlando, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Tampa and Rochester, N.Y.

The Bertie County Public School system is now under new leadership. The new superintendent, Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, is not responsible for the past.

However, in order to move the school system forward, she must address the past. We suggest she start with the questionable spending practices. Be straightforward and honest with the tax-paying citizens of Bertie County. They may never forget, but they are of the forgiving nature.