Johnson takes over as county commission chairman

Published 4:35 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Yoder appointed vice chair

COLUMBUS – The Polk County Board of Commissioners selected Jake Johnson as its new chairman for the upcoming year.

Johnson, 23, was the high vote-getter in the 2016 county election.

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Commissioners met Monday, Dec. 4 and appointed Johnson as chairman and commissioner Myron Yoder as vice chairman. Johnson previously served as vice chair and commissioner Tommy Melton was previously chairman.

Johnson said Monday during commissioner comments that this has been a cohesive board and he has enjoyed working on it.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better board to start out with,” Johnson told commissioners.

Johnson was appointed the new chair by a unanimous vote. Commissioner Ray Gasperson abstained from voting for Johnson as chair, but not voting counts as an affirmative vote.

Yoder was appointed vice chair by a 4-1 vote. Gasperson nominated Melton, but the nomination died for lack of a second. Gasperson said if the board’s young commissioner, with only one year of experience, decides to take on the role as chairman, it would be wise for the board to elect a vice chair who has extensive experience as a commissioner and preferably experience as a chair.

“Such a person, in my opinion, would be in a position to give sound advice and vital support to chair Johnson at all times,” said Gasperson. “Besides myself, there is only one individual who fits this criteria. Commissioner Melton has served a total of five years on this board, three of which he has served as chairman.”

During commissioner comments Monday, Yoder said he has enjoyed being a commissioner the past year and looks forward to the challenges of the coming year.

He said if anyone ever wants to see a native of Polk County with honesty and integrity, look at commissioner Shane Bradley.

“He speaks his mind and I appreciate that very much,” Yoder said of Bradley.

To chair Melton, Yoder said if you want to get a meeting going and you want it to stay on track, Mr. Melton will do that. Yoder said Melton has done a very good job as chair and he never had to worry about coming to a meeting that Melton wasn’t going to have under control and conduct in a proper and organized manner.

To Johnson, Yoder said one thing you can be sure of is that Johnson is from Polk County, he knows the view of the people, and he’s going to do what the people want.

To Gasperson, Yoder said he likes his ideas and experience. Yoder also complimented county manager Marche Pittman and county attorney Jana Berg.

Gasperson, beginning his 10th year as commissioner, thanked the board and said it has been a good year.

Melton said the past year has been very fruitful and has given him a great amount of respect for the commissioners and the citizens of Polk County.

“I believe, as the chairman, you must allow each commissioner to have the opportunity to speak his thoughts,” Melton said. “I also believe you must allow all citizens to have their opportunity to speak to this board. I believe that I have fulfilled this requirement.”

He said the board has shown him great respect for his position as well as respect for one another’s thoughts and opinions and that is why the county was able to accomplish all it has the past year.

Melton also said the county’s 175 employees are the greatest resource the county has and he appreciates all they stand for. Melton also named Pittman, Berg and clerk to the board, Ange High, for their hard work.

Melton then named accomplishments over the past year, including approving a budget with no tax increases that included additional debt service and 13 new staff to run the new jail facility; obtaining the N.C. Department of Commerce grant for the new cheese production facility in Green Creek; conducting a county-wide internet access survey with additional providers coming to the table who could potentially locate here; approving the first full-time business development director, changing the veteran service director position to full-time; conducting an organizational work session and economic development round table; conducting a property revaluation; and forming the first fire and rescue advisory committee.

The chair of the Polk County Board of Commissioners serves for one year with commissioners appointing a chair and vice chair every December.

Following the meeting, Johnson thanked fellow commissioners for an amazing first year and for trusting him to take on the role as chairman of the board.

“I look forward to using my new position to continue being a voice and advocate for the people of the county I love so much,” Johnson said.