County to purchase property on courthouse square, retain Walley
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By RUSSELL TURNER
The Greene County Board of Supervisors made pretty short work of their first meeting agenda of the year Monday morning. Supervisors covered routine matters, but a couple of issues did stand out.
Among those was a vote by the board to purchase the building and property currently being used as the law office of Leakesville attorney Dennis DeBar. County officials and DeBar had been in negotiations over the price of the property for several weeks and settled on a purchase price of $73,800 Tuesday morning. The 54-ft.x66-ft lot and 864 square-foot building is currently the only property on the courthouse square (from Main Street to Oak Street and from Lafayette Avenue to McInnis Avenue) not owned by the county.
Supervisors plan to use the space for county offices, reportedly election commissioners, and hope to take ownership of the property soon.
Another slightly more contentious matter revolved around who will provide legal counsel to the supervisors for the coming year. New Augusta-based attorney Paul Walley, who has served as board attorney for several years, reminded supervisors Tuesday morning that they are required to hire, or re-hire, their board counsel each January. Dist. Four Supervisor Wayne Barrow followed quickly with a motion to rehire Walley and Dist. Fiver Supervisor Gary Fairley offered a second to the motion.
However, Dist. One Supervisor Dillon McInnis asked for discussion on the matter. McInnis said he had a tremendous respect for Walley and his son David Walley, who assists him and attends meetings when the elder Walley cannot.
However, McInnis noted that a constituent in his district, Chris Dobbins, had expressed interest in the position, and that based on his knowledge of Dobbins’ professional credentials and residency, he felt obliged to nominate him for the post.
“Chris Dobbins is a local resident who operates businesses here and pays taxes here,” McInnis said. “I have a lot of respect for Paul and David and the job they have done for us, and this is certainly not anything personal or professional against either of them, but I have to support Chris for this position.”
Barrow countered that he had no personal issues with Dobbins and felt he was qualified for the position, but wanted to stick with his motion to re-hire Walley.
“We know what we have with Paul and the job he has done for us,” Barrow said. “This is not a personal issue for me either. I am solely interested in protecting the integrity of this board.”
With a motion and second on the table to re-hire Walley, Board President Danny Smith (Dist. Three) called for a vote. The measure passed on a 3-2 vote with Smith joining Barrow and Fairley. McInnis and Dist. Two Supervisor Elton Clark voting against it.
Among other business on Tuesday, supervisors voted to:
n continue rotation of the board presidency on 10-month terms, rotating in order of district number. Barrow will assume the role, which does not include any additional pay or benefits, on Jan. 16. Fairley, who passed on his rotation as president early in this term, will serve as Vice-President this rotation; and
n approved a joint trip by all board members and county Economic Development Coordinator Danny Box to tour the Gulf LNG (liquid natural gas) facility in Pascagoula later this month. A delegation from Southern Pines Energy Center on Tung Oil Road is supposed to join the county officials on the visit.