Commissioners tweak board appointment procedure

Published 8:55 am Tuesday, June 19, 2012

WINTON – Hertford County officials say they appreciate the willingness of citizens to serve on various boards. However, there are a limited number that receive the opportunity.

At their June 4 meeting, the Hertford County Commissioners performed what is likely perceived as a “ho-hum” process – that of appointing or reappointing individuals to county service-related boards. But the Commissioners took that task to a new level by approving procedures that will hopefully lead to more county citizens expressing an interest to serve.

“We received a lot of applications today from many qualified citizens that wish to serve on boards that we appoint,” said Commissioner Ronald Gatling after he and his colleagues spent the better part of a half-hour going through a long list of board appointments.

“My question is, when you’re already serving in a position and doing a good job to be reappointed, how do these other citizens expressing an interest for a board appointment get a chance to serve,” Gatling inquired. “How do we get a procedure going to allow these citizens a chance to serve their county?

“What we might want to do is put a term limit on them,” suggested Commission Chairman Curtis Freeman.

Murfreesboro attorney Chuck Revelle, who serves as legal counsel to the commissioners, reminded the board that they did look at appointment procedures in January of this year.

“One of the stipulations you put in effect was that no citizen could serve more than 10 consecutive years,” Revelle said. “You did have a provision that the term limitation could be waived if you felt it was important for that person to continue (beyond the 10-year limit).”

Revelle went on to suggest that the appointments approved at the June 4 meeting needed checking by the Clerk to the Board to see if everyone appointed meets that term limit criteria.

“You also have started advertising these board positions and you now have a larger pool of names for a number of these boards,” Revelle added. “Those names remain on file for a period of six months in case another board appointment comes up.”

“We don’t want to lose people on these boards that have been committed to their service, but at the same time you hate to turn down people who wish to serve, to give something back to their county,” Gatling stressed. “I agree that we have only a certain number of board appointments to fill, but I do not want those that are applying for the first or second time to think that we’re overlooking them.”

“The public needs to know that we take a lot of guidance over these reappointments from the boards themselves,” Freeman stated. “We do have representation by the commissioners on some of these boards, but the others we have to rely on what we’re being told about those members. That feedback helps us in making our decision on reappointments.

“Commissioner Gatling, I agree with you that we have a lot of great citizens that want to serve,” Freeman continued. “Like you I don’t want them to feel that we are overlooking their willingness to serve.”

Freeman instructed Board Clerk Sheila Matthews to check into the longevity of those already serving on the boards.

The Chairman also discussed the current method used by those already serving on boards in regards to the way they notify county officials to request reappointment.

In a straw poll conducted by the commissioners, Freeman, Gatling and Johnnie Ray Farmer said a letter from the sitting board member would suffice. Commissioner Bill Mitchell said he believed the person should fill out an application.

Farmer added that he would prefer not only a letter from a sitting board member, but one as well from the chairperson of that board or the director of the agency in which the board member serves.

“The letter from the chairperson or the director will allow us to be aware of the participation level of the board member asking for reappointment,” Farmer said. “We need to know if they’re attending meetings on a regular basis. What we do not want to do is reappoint someone that is not actively taking part in those meetings.”

In a 3-1 vote, the commissioners will require a letter from the applicant as well as from the board chairperson or agency director when a person is requesting reappointment. Mitchell opposed, saying he still favored the application process.

Commissioner Howard Hunter III was out of town and did not attend the meeting.

The following are the board appointments/reappointments approved by the commissioners at their June 4 meeting:

Choanoke Public Transportation Authority (1 position) – Brenda S. Greene was reappointment from a total of three applicants;

ABC Board (1 position) – Lillie Owens-White was reappointed from a list of six applicants;

Public Health Authority (3 positions) – Katina Eley and Dr. Terry Hall were reappointed; the third position needs to be filled by a representative of Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital;

Joint Community Advisory Committee (5 positions) – Mana Burke, Winfred Hardy Jr. and Orlanda Reed were reappointed; Dr. Melvin C. Lawrence was appointed; there was not a fifth applicant;

Parks & Recreation Advisory Commission (5 positions) – of the seven total applicants, only Tina Pritchard was reappointed to represent the Town of Ahoskie; the decision on the remaining applicants was tabled until a later date;

Region Q Workforce Development Board (5 positions) – J. Wendell Hall, Charles Reynolds and Quinton Turman were reappointed; Dr. Melvin C. Lawrence was appointed; there was not a fifth applicant; and

R-CCC Board of Trustees (1 position) – Lillie Owens-White was reappointed from a list of four applicants.

The commissioners tabled appointments/reappointments to East Carolina Behavioral Health Board (1 position) and the Medical Services Transportation Advisory Council (4 positions).

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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