Road trip

Published 2:13 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2012

WINDSOR – They’re coming to a town near you.

The Bertie County Commissioners agreed last week to study the possibility of having meetings throughout the county during 2013.

During the Commissioner Reports portion of the agenda, Commissioner Ronald D. Wesson (D-1st) asked the board to consider moving the meetings to clusters of citizens throughout the county.

“This board meets somewhere around 22 times a year,” he said. “We have a daytime meeting and an evening meeting and its always here (in Windsor). I would suggest that we might want to consider taking this meeting on the road to some of the other jurisdictions in the county.”

Wesson suggested four such jurisdictions, the Lewiston Woodville, Kelford and Roxobel triangle, Colerain, Aulander and Powellsville.

“We could have this normal evening meeting in that jurisdiction, conduct business as usual but also have an opportunity for those citizens to talk to us about what is going on in their community,” he said. “I know they have that opportunity anytime as citizens of the county, but I think it would send a great signal and make it easier for those citizens to attend.”

Commission Chairman J. Wallace Perry (D-3rd) asked if Wesson was suggesting meeting at those places once a year and Wesson said he was. Commissioner John Trent (U-4th) said the board could meet in each district.

“We did that before and held full-fledge commissioners meetings,” Commissioner Rick Harrell (D-2nd)  said. “We had no participation or very little participation.”

Wesson asked if the meetings were advertised and the public encouraged to attend and Harrell  said it was.

Perry said he didn’t have an objection to trying it and Trent said he thought it would be worth trying to see if it works.

“We need to encourage citizens to be more active in county government and this is a way to try to do it,” Wesson said.

Harrell asked Assistant County Manager Misty Deanes how the board decided where to meet when it was done before. Deanes said it had been many years, but she believed it was done in alphabetical order.

Trent suggested the board meet in each commissioner district.

“District Four would be Kelford, Roxobel and Lewiston,” Trent said. “Let’s say hypothetically, we meet at the Kelford Community Building and that would be for my district.”

Perry said his district would encompass Powellsville, Aulander and Colerain.

Wesson said he understood the possibility of doing it by districts, but his suggestion was to do it by township clusters. He said the four he suggested would encompass most of the population.

Harrell, however, said it would leave his district out completely and Perry said three of those townships were in his district.

“I don’t think it matters whose district it is as long as it draws the majority of people from the county,” Wesson said.

“I don’t agree with that,” Harrell said. “I think it does matter. I think the people of the Merry Hill district for example aren’t going to travel but so far. If you’re going to have it on the road in the county, you need to take it where they are.”

Trent agreed. He said it would be better to hold it in the district.

“You might as well have it in Windsor if you’re going to have me pick one of Aulander, Powellsville and Colerain,” Perry said. “Powellsville is the middle, but you know how happy that will make Aulander and Colerain.”

Deanes suggested the board discuss it more at length during their upcoming retreat. The board discussed the issue further, but decided to hold off making a decision until the group meets at their retreat, which will likely be in February, 2013.