Sunshine again shunned by board of commissioners

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, January 16, 2013

To the editor:

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”  King James Bible, John 3:19.

Once again at their Jan. 7, 2013 meeting, the board of commissioners (BOC) majority used secrecy to accomplish their goal. Using their recent rules change to avoid giving agenda items titles that inform other commissioners and the public about what will be discussed, Tom Pack placed an item on the agenda vaguely labeled “waterline extensions.”

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When Commissioner (Ray) Gasperson asked Pack about the vagueness, Pack responded it was intentional, that he didn’t want to pin himself down because he might want to talk about more than one extension.  Weak response, Tom.  Only one extension was discussed.

The real reason for the vagueness is Pack didn’t want the public to know that he was again proposing the waterline that he and commissioner (Ted) Owens have long sought: One that would service William Day’s land at the intersection of Highway 74 and Highway 9.

Pack and Owens first thought they could run the waterline by Day’s property when Polk Central School’s water well needed work. But that waterline was estimated to cost up to $1,000,000.

Learning that, Superintendent Miller and the school board decided to repair the school’s well, at a cost of about $40,000. They told the commissioners not to extend the waterline since it wasn’t otherwise needed.

Not easily deterred, Owens and Pack still argued to extend the waterline to Polk Central, past Mr. Day’s property.  After it became clear that the BOC wasn’t going to force the school to accept a waterline the school board didn’t want, Owens said, “Can’t we at least take it to Highway 74?” where Mr. Day’s property lies.

I thought the new majority would raise this waterline again at their first meeting. I was wrong. They waited until the second meeting. And then they dressed it up (“put lipstick on the pork”), or disguised it, as a plan to extend the line to Mill Spring, rather than just to Highway 74 and Mr. Day’s property, as had been their goal in the past.

At the BOC meeting, the chair asked if there were any comments from the public. Of course there were none. No one knew what the vague agenda item was about. As Commissioner Gasperson rightly pointed out, “There was no information and citizens didn’t know to come if they wished to speak on it.”  The majority’s mission was accomplished.

Why keep bringing William Day into this discussion?  In the 2010 election, Mr. Day made a generous campaign contribution to Tom Pack.  In the 2012 election, Mr. Day made a $250 campaign contribution to Keith Holbert.  And Mr. Day paid for the many full page “Liberty” ads in the Tryon Daily Bulletin in support of Pack, Gage and Holbert and hosted the “Liberty” website on the internet to which the Republicans’ Facebook page frequently connected.  That’s a lot of campaign support, probably unheard of in past Polk County Elections.

Is there any connection between the election support and the waterline? You decide.

– Renée McDermott, Tryon