Commissioners critical of Boone

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 16, 2005

JACKSON n Northampton County Commissioner James Boone's dissention with the four other members of the board continued here Monday afternoon.

The commissioner twice cast the lone vote against measures presented to the Board and his votes and discussion apparently rankled some of his counterparts.

At the meeting's end, Commissioner James Hester took a moment to thank chairwoman Virginia D. Spruill and County Manager Wayne Jenkins for their work for the citizens of Northampton County.

"I'm the new fellow on the block," Hester said. "I wanted to say I've been in the ministry for 50 years and worked with a lot of people and I appreciate the service you (Spruill) render to this board."

Hester said many people in his district said Spruill was fair when he was elected and he had found her to be so.

He also said he was appreciative of the service the county manager provided the board.

"If we get into trouble, it won't be his fault," Hester said. "He goes where we guide him."

Following Hester's remarks, Boone said he appreciated the words, but didn't fully agree.

"Though I don't totally agree, I respect the opinion Mr. Hester has as we all should," Boone said.

Boone then said he was simply doing his best to represent the people of the county in disagreeing with some measures.

He said sometimes as a commissioner it was difficult to separate what was in the best interest of the county from personal concerns.

He also said he felt the county manager should recommend what was in the best interest of the citizens of the county, even if it was unpopular with the majority of the Board.

"My take is if it is good for us, I'll go for it; if it's not, I won't," Boone said. "Those who like it, fine; those who don't, fine."

The commissioner said he was a Rural Center graduate and suggested each board member get training through the center.

He closed by suggesting the county had moved steadily down hill because of the lack of business and industry.

Boone's comments obviously bothered commissioners Robert V. Carter and Fannie Greene.

"I hadn't planned on saying anything, but Mr. Boone made a comment I totally disagree with," Carter said.

Carter said he has served seven years on the Board and he felt differently.

"We have accomplished things in Northampton County and for him to say that the Board hasn't accomplished anything, I totally disagree," Carter insisted. "We have increased the tax base tremendously."

Carter said it was true the Board couldn't force Belk or J.C. Penny or other clothing manufacturers to build, but they were out there looking.

Greene said she had to echo Carter's thoughts.

"I take issue with that," Greene said. "This is my first term on the Board, but I feel like we've done a lot."

Greene said she too was a graduate of the Rural Center and she wished Boone would remember all of the training provided there.

"They also taught us how to grow and work together," Greene said. "I would like to see us working together as a Board. Well, I can't say just as a Board, I guess I should say specifically you Mr. Boone."

Greene said she would like to see the commissioners "get along better."

Carter then brought up the point of the $7.5 million funding announced for the Advanced Vehicle Research Center by Representative Michael Wray (D- Northampton) earlier in the meeting.

"Five years down the road, Northampton County will be saturated with clothing, hotels and restaurants because of this long-range planning," Carter insisted.

Spruill then took her opportunity to express her feelings.

"Mr. Boone, I thank you for your comments as always," Spruill said. "I hope you feel we give you the opportunity to express your ideas and participate in the deliberation."

The chairwoman then indicated she too was a graduate of the Rural Center and said she would like to see the principles there demonstrated.

She said the goals taught included getting along with people and coming to a consensus and to not be a separationist or a person that was disruptive.

"I hope in the coming days as long as you are a commissioner, we will see that come to fruition," Spruill said.

Boone asked what the Board wanted from him, indicating he only voted his conscious.

Jenkins then said he rarely spoke, but felt it would be appropriate.

"The county manager works for the board, not the individual commissioners," Jenkins said. "The county manager gets direction from a majority vote of the Board."

Jenkins said if he was not given direction as the board would like to see, he would appreciate having that information shared with him so he could prepare his staff to better serve the county.

Spruill said she felt the manager was doing his job well and, thusly, no changes in direction were needed.

Then, turning back to Boone, she again addressed his dissention with the Board.

"You have to learn to get along with people," Spruill said.

She said board members should get along and be part of the group.

"One time you were," she said. "I don't know what happened. I ask you to work with this board."

Spruill then called for a motion to enter closed session and ended the discussion portion of the agenda.