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Committees want more

Caitlin Rickard • Dec 17, 2015 at 5:18 PM

Several county committees met Tuesday where discussions ranged from funding for the new Veterans Park to possibly adding members to the school board.

The Public Works Committee, which OK’d initial funds of $600,000 at their meeting last week, was again asked to consider upping the ante.

Since their meeting, the Budget Committee approved the $600,000 earmark toward the project, and that amount will go to the full commission meeting next week.

To be able to finish the project, which is estimated to cost around $1.4 million, Commissioner Bernie Ash from the Veteran’s Service Office asked the Public Works Committee for an additional $500,000.

Ash said this money would be used to complete the entire project, not just the building of the park, and that he believed all of it would not be spent.

He also said he wanted the museum to be completed, as well as the park.

“This is a very emotional thing for me. I want to be able to see every single student in Wilson County walk through that museum to see what these real-life heroes have done,” Ash said.

The committee voted to ask the Budget Committee to find up to $500,000 in additional funds to pay for the complete Veteran’s Park project.

Board of Education Ad Hoc committee, a special committee formed to investigate possibly adding members to the Wilson County Board of Education, also met Tuesday.

Commissioner Mike Justice said he was adamant about adding members to the board of education and he receives calls constantly on the issue.

“There are 25 county commissioners and only five board of education members, so basically we’re giving 71 percent of our budget to a three-man vote,” Justice said. “I just don’t think that’s fair.”

Justice said he thought zones for the board were so spread out that people didn’t feel like they were being adequately represented.

“I think it’s unfair that such a small board controls so much. I think we need to add at least two board members,” Justice said. “I would say an extremely high percentage of my constituents want to see more board members.”

Commissioner Annette Stafford echoed Justice’s opinion.

“The zones are not equally proportioned,” Stafford said. “I think they should be re-divided.”

Committee Chairman Gary Keith said he believed if something isn’t broke, then they didn’t need to fix it.

“I don’t see anything that is wrong with the way things are now, and it would just be more money for the county to pay,” Keith said.

Stafford said that to her cost was irrelevant and to her the representation was broken.

“When it comes to cost, what’s the cost of equal representation?” Stafford said. “I think we’re paying with the cost of growth. This county is growing by leaps and bounds.”

Keith said he thought the current board has done a great job and will continue to do so.

“We need a better reason to do this than the zones being too big,” Keith said.

The committee then voted, with only Keith dissenting, on a recommendation to the Education Committee, who will take over the issue.

The Education Committee must now consider the recommendation and decide how to go proceed.

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