Northampton leadership unchanged

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 8, 2005

JACKSON – The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Monday morning the Northampton County Commissioners changed leadership – technically.

After more than 10 minutes of discussion, the Board reelected Chairwoman Virginia D. Spruill (D-2nd) and Vice Chairman Robert V. Carter (D-4th).

Following the normal opening of the Board, Spruill turned the meeting over to County Attorney Charles Vaughan. He then opened the floor for nominations for chairman.

Carter made the motion to keep the officers of the Board as they were for the coming year and Spruill moved nominations be closed with a second from Commissioner James Hester (D-1st).

Vaughan called for a vote on the matter without asking for discussion, which Commissioner James C. Boone (D-3rd) objected to. After the request from Boone, the floor was opened for discussion.

&uot;There have been times when the chairperson was disrespectful to this elected official,&uot; Boone said. &uot;The county citizens voted to put us all here and I have a right to speak. That right has been taken away from me by gavel.

&uot;On one occasion, the chair was heard to say she didn’t want to hear anything I had to say,&uot; he added. &uot;Another time, she said we could continue discussion, but nothing would change.&uot;

Boone said the chairperson should be unbiased and let commissioners have their say whether or not they agree with the statements. He also said he felt the chair had tried to &uot;shut up&uot; members of the audience who disagreed with her.

&uot;Other than that, I would love to continue to support her,&uot; he said.

Spruill said she didn’t necessarily agree with the statements, but offered an apology.

&uot;If you feel I have disrespected you in any way, based upon your feelings, maybe I don’t agree, but I apologize,&uot; she said.

Carter said he felt the Board had been a great working group and that much process had been made in the county’s governmental operations.

&uot;I hope this Board, all members of the Board, will dedicate themselves, devote themselves to the task at hand for the betterment of all citizens,&uot; he closed.

Commissioner Fannie P. Greene (D-5th) said the statements made would hopefully remind all commissioners to be on their guard about how they approached each other.

&uot;We need to work for the betterment of the county, not I or me,&uot; she said.

Hester said he was new on the board and felt appreciation for the cooperation of the Board members. He said he believed the chair had been extremely fair, but added he was not casting dispersions on Boone’s comments.

&uot;I hope this buries the issue and we can get on with the business of the county,&uot; he said.

There being no further discussion, Vaughan called for the vote, which passed unanimously.

Vaughan then opened the floor for nominations for County Attorney.

Boone made a motion to continue with current counsel and appoint the County Attorney at a later date.

&uot;I don’t have a problem with continuing this, but I think we should specify on or before a date,&uot; Greene said.

Boone said he didn’t have a date in mind, but the current counsel would be maintained until the Board decided to appoint.

The motion failed with only Boone voting in favor of it.

Spruill then nominated Vaughan with Hester offering a second.

Boone said he was uncomfortable with some of the legal advice offered to the Board in recent days and would like to see outside opinions before making the appointment.

&uot;That’s my reservation,&uot; he said. &uot;We are not required to make this appointment today. I think you would share some of my concerns.&uot;

The motion passed 4-1 with Boone casting the lone dissenting vote.

The Board, on a motion by Carter, seconded by Spruill and passed unanimously, appointed Kay Flythe as Clerk to the Board.

Later in the meeting, Spruill thanked her fellow Board members for the reappointment.

&uot;I want to thank my fellow Board members for electing me to serve one more term,&uot; Spruill said. &uot;I’ve tried to do my best. At times, we don’t always do what we desire, but we have tried.&uot;

Carter also expressed appreciation for his selection to remain as vice chairman.

&uot;I thank the Board for the confidence in me to serve as vice chairman,&uot; he said. &uot;We as a Board have made remarkable strides.&uot;

Carter admitted he and Spruill had conversations about &uot;me stepping up to the plate&uot; but he felt she should continue to serve until some of the current projects were settled, especially the beginning of the Northampton County Wellness and Cultural Center.

&uot;In time, if I am reelected, I will have a chance to serve as chair,&uot; he said. &uot;I am grateful to serve with the Board members we have. Madam chair, I support you 100 percent.&uot;

Spruill said Carter had been an exemplary vice chairman and she appreciated his support.