Finally, after the better part of a year, Scotland County commissioners — mostly at the urging of Commissioners Tim Ivey, Darrell “B.J.” Gibson and Clarence McPhatter — have decided that it’s important enough to investigate how, why and who lost two state grants and forced county taxpayers to repay a $575,000 loan to cover the snafu.
Last week, commissioners voted unanimously to form a three-member committee that will dig into the circumstances leading up to the loss of the grants.
We applaud the albeit belated interest by the county board, but can’t help wondering what changed their minds after former and current commissioners like Bob Davis, Whit Gibson and Carol McCall, along with Country Manager Kevin Patterson, spent so much time adamantly defending the process and Economic Development Commission Director Mark Ward’s part in it.
Whatever it was, let’s not mess it up. This is an investigation that should focus more on thoroughness than speed.
County taxpayers have already seen their money be used to pay the first of 10 installments of $57,500 sent to repay a state loan. Those payments will be due by July 1 for another nine years.
If there might be a glitch in the committee that was formed, it could be in the fact that its members are only from the Board of Commissioners — the same board, basically, that wanted to sweep this all under the rug for months. It would have a little more credibility if this committee took on two non-board members from the community — the community that is footing the bill for this debacle.
But still …
It is clear to us that this investigation should have a relatively easy task, since much of the process involving the project in question, the two state grants, the grant-writing and the ensuing deception by Ward is in black and white through emails. It should also be easily evident that Patterson knew what was happening every step of the way, since that’s his job.
So compiling all of the necessary information shouldn’t be challenging or take very long. The question then is: What does the Board of Commissioners do with it?
Well, we already have some thoughts, but that’s a question for another time. But we will be very interested in the findings, the presentation to the public, recommendations from the committee and what course of action this Board of Commissioners take.
Right now, our biggest hope remains that the investigation is thorough.
On Saturday, Scots For Youth Teen Court presented a special 9/11 Flags Across America event at City Hall to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
It was a moving presentation that 40 attendees witnessed.
While we give kudos to the Scots For Youth Teen Court for being one of just 100 communities/organizations nationwide to be given the opportunity, we are disappointed there wasn’t a much-bigger crowd.
At the forefront of those missing were specific members of the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office, Laurinburg City Council and city manager, Scotland County Board of Commissioners and county manager, Scotland County Board of Education and superintendent.
This county seems to be able to turn out for festivals and football games, but rarely for the truly important gatherings like this one that should unite us all.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.”