The county commission is seldom a stranger to controversy and Monday night was no exception.
Former commissioner David Young appeared before the group to respond to action proposed by newly elected commissioner Tom Hatmaker at last week’s workshop.
During that meeting Hatmaker stated his intention to make a motion to rename the park located at the White Bridge.
At the last meeting prior to the installation of new commissioners the body voted to name the park the Campbell County Lonas Young Memorial Park at the request of former mayor Tom Stiner and former sheriff Ron McClellan.
On Monday, Young implored the commission to vote against any attempt at renaming the area that now bears his father’s name.
“It was no political favor to me,” Young said of the way the park came to be named. “I’d ask you not to disrespect my father just like I would never disrespect any of your fathers. I’m here to simply ask you to leave the Campbell County Lonas Young Memorial Park the way it was voted on.”
Despite Young’s remarks Hatmaker moved ahead with his effort to have the new recreational area renamed.
“I grew up out there too and we’ve always called it White Bridge Park,” Hatmaker told his colleagues.
He went on to state he had no beef with Young, but simply thought the park needed to be named after the county and not an individual.
“I am not politically motivated in any way. I get along with David fine and always have,” Hatmaker said.
After Hatmaker’s motion gained a second from Commissioner Melvin Boshears, Commissioner Johnny Bruce kicked off the discussion with a word of warning.
“Before you do something here tonight you need to really think about it,” Bruce said recalling when the Jacksboro Middle School field house was named after him and then later renamed for someone else.
Commissioner Bobby White yielded his time on the floor to Young to respond to Hatmaker’s comments.
“Everyone here knows my relationship with Mr. Hatmaker’s father and this absolutely is politically motivated,” Young said. “Don’t dishonor my father please.”
As discussion began to deteriorate County Mayor and Commission Chairman William Baird banged his gavel to gain order.
When the roll was called only Hatmaker and Boshears voted in favor of the name change.
Development of the 2010-11 budget proved to be another hot button topic during the meeting.
While Commissioner Beverly Hall’s motion to have Jeff Marlow, finance director, make the budget conform to the $1.71 certified tax rate garnered nods from a number of commissioners others had questions.
Both White and Bruce were quick to point out the $451,000 increase in maintenance of effort funding the county is mandated to provide the school system.
In a previous budget and finance committee workshop Marlow told the commission that a 13 cent property tax increase would be required to maintain operation at its current level as a result of the increased maintenance of effort requirement.
While some of the group was inclined to believed that the school system could make adjustments in its budget to account for the additional money Commissioner David Adkins pointed out that this line of thinking was flawed.
“They (board of education) can’t make that money up within their budget,” Adkins stated and county attorney Joe Coker concurred.
Undeterred by the comments against her motion, Hall continued to argue its merits.
“He (Marlow) needs to look and see what he can cut to come up with the money for the school,” Hall said.
When debate ceased the motion to send the budget back to Marlow passed narrowly in an 8-7 vote.
Electing four members to the FMS committee proved to be no small feat. Baird presented commissioners Marie Ayers, Bruce, Terry Singley and White as his recommendations for the committee, but Hatmaker had other ideas.
When Hatmaker nominated commissioner Charley Baird the county mayor asked which name he intended to remove from the list.
After some discussion on how to go forward the commission decided to scrap Baird’s list and start from scratch.
In a surprise move Boshears nominated non-commissioner Jim Slusher to the committee.
Commissioner Alvin Evans appeared bewildered as he asked who Slusher was.
“Are these people not qualified?” Evans asked of the commissioners on the list the mayor presented.
Commissioner Bob Walden asked Slusher, who was seated in the audience, to step to the mic and provide his credentials.
Having served in a variety of capacities where he was required to manage the substantial budgets of colleges, Slusher said he felt confident he was qualified to serve.
“I think I am qualified to serve and of course I would serve at the pleasure of the commission,” Slusher said.
In addition to Slusher the group also elected Charley Baird, Adkins and Singley to the committee.
Commissioners will resume budget talks tonight at 6 p.m.