County Manager apparently stonewalls request for Perquimans public documents
PERQUIMANS COUNTY — In an effort to understand the facts that were considered before county officials decided to proceed with construction of a new county Public Library, we submitted a document request to the County Manager. We asked for information that we could review, which might support the claims of Commissioner Peeler that the county commissioners considered all relevant alternatives before deciding to proceed.
That request was submitted on May 17 to the County Manager.
Approximately 30 days later, we contacted the Mr. Heath to ascertain what progress was being made. On June 27, we were advised that the documents were available for pickup at the courthouse. Upon initial review, we had questions about the completeness of the requested documents since most of what we received appeared to be contract documents for prospective bidders only.
Mr. Heath attempted to assert that the materials submitted included alternative plans, but a careful review refuted that assertion.
We contacted the County Manager further about County Commission meeting minutes that we could review, which might shed some light on when these alternative plans were discussed.
Mr. Heath stated that the minutes were available online and that these discussions took place over a period of several months and that identifying the particular months for individual review would be very difficult. Despite the apparent stonewalling, we went to the meeting agenda archives on the Perquimans County website and reviewed many of the meeting agendas but found none where the subject of the library approval was discussed.
Likewise, no meeting agenda had any reference to ‘alternative plans.’
From our point of view, the County Manager is carrying out an effort to stonewall our investigation and to proceed with the construction of the new library, despite citizen input about the necessity of incurring almost $3 million in debt for a library that the county does not need.
When this issue was first addressed, we were told by various people within the county that the entire matter was one of ‘county pride’ — that there were those within the county leadership who were looking at new buildings in other counties and wanting the same thing for Perquimans County.
We have attended Commissioner meetings when members of the community have spoken up as opposing the construction of this new library and incurring $3 million in long-term debt to do so.
Regrettably, those citizen complaints were completely ignored, which was also the case in the wind farm debate. In that case, the Commissioner meetings were so heavily attended by citizens, all opposing the wind farm, yet the county commissioners approved the wind farm despite these complaints. So there is no surprise that the commissioners have taken the same approach with respect to the library. One citizen stated recently that the commissioners could be counted on to listen to the citizens’ complaints intently and then do whatever they please and fund whatever pet projects they choose.
The citizens of Perquimans County will have to address these and other questions when the election takes place in November. Commissioner Kyle Jones is seeking reelection, but he is one of the commissioners who have voted against the citizens at every opportunity.
Chairman Cole and Commissioner Peeler are not seeking reelection, which means their seats are up for grabs.. All commissioners in Perquimans County run at large. Therefore, there are no specific contested elections for local office.
Therefore, the citizens will have the opportunity to put conservatives on the Board of Commissioners. There are three (3) candidates seeking the Cole and Peeler seats. They are Alan Lennon (who was part of the opposition to wind energy and who also opposes the wasted money for the library); Charles Woodard owner of Woodard Pharmacy, and Joseph Hoffler.
Commissioner Jones who runs as a conservative is ‘anything but’ — in our opinion. We trust that the voters will elect candidates that will change the balance of power and restore conservative values on the Board of Commissioners.