Commission debates agenda order; hears from citizen

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By Jennifer Caldwell

Commissioners kicked off Monday’s workshop by hearing complaints from a citizen about road maintenance during last Thursday’s winter storm.

Jerry Moat, Pinecrest Volunteer Fire Department chief, approached the body requesting that the highway department rethink its handling of treacherous road conditions often created by ice and snow.

“The storm started at 4 p.m. and the first trucks didn’t roll out until 9 p.m.,” Moat said adding that members of the PVFD worked into the night aiding stranded travelers during the storm.

Commissioner Rusty Orick responded to Moat’s comments with a slightly different account of the highway department’s work that evening.

“I saw gravel going on Towe String Road at 4:30 p.m.,” Orick told Moat.

Commission attorney Kathy Parrott also reported seeing several trucks out around 6:30 p.m.

“I thought they (highway department employees) did a great job myself,” Commissioner Johnny Joe Dower commented.

Despite testimonials of the highway department’s good work, Moat continued to disagreed suggesting that Dennis Potter, road superintendent, keep a stockpile of sand and salt on hand to combat slick streets around the county.

“I come from salt country and I know Dennis (Potter) doesn’t like to use salt, but no more than we would have to use here it would not do damage to the vehicles. We are going to keep messing around until somebody gets killed,” Moat said as he wrapped up his remarks.

Commissioner Lynn Letner pointed out that the body had no authority to do anything but suggest practices for Potter’s department.

“We can only make suggestions.  We can’t tell him (Potter) what to do,” Letner said.

As the group began work on creating the upcoming meeting’s agenda the order of the agenda itself became the object of debate.

During the December meeting Commissioner Stan Marlow attempted to introduce a motion that would re-order the regular meeting agenda in the name of saving time, but his colleagues voted to table the motion.

Marlow attempted to resurrect the issue on Monday again suggesting that the proposed changes to the agenda would help the group save time and reduce debate.

Unconvinced, Commissioner Adrion Baird argued that Marlow’s proposal placed the county mayor too far down on the agenda.

“The county mayor is the highest elected official in the county and should be recognized first,” Baird said.

Baird continued to offer opposition asking that the request for changes to the agenda examined by the rules and ethics committee.

Marlow insisted on a straw vote to gage support for the measure. The overwhelming vote was abstention with most commissioners stating they did not care what happened either way.

The group also revisited the well worn topic of reducing or not reducing the number of commissioners elected per district. While the current number of commissioners representing each district is three, Baird stated his intention to introduce action that will reduce the number to two.

While there was little discussion about Baird’s addition to the agenda, Chairman David Young said if the Baird’s motion was successful he intended to ask for the salary of commissioners to be increased.  

According to Young, the logic behind a proposed increase was to attract more qualified candidates to the position.  

The commission will meet in regular session on Monday at 6 p.m.