When Giants Fall
I wondered if the board was reluctant to have their meeting because of the news crew presence. Where was Cora Rogers? Just the other week, she was begging to be included in tne trips to Jackson but she can't attend a meeting in Lumberton. I was also a little miffed that Quincy Rogers wasn't present until I later discovered that the second call to the mayor was from Quincy, informing tne mayor that he was on his way but as soon as Winston got off the phone, he dismissed tne meeting. Interesting. People lingered around and there was a failed attempt to get Winston to give the news crew an interview. The citizens that were present were there to show support for the police department. The others left and WHLT was trying to get an interview with Chief Cowart about the lack of police officers since rumors were circulating that there's no money to pay part time police officers. While in the corrider, some citizens were talking with Jay McGraw since he was in such a jovial mood. Somehow, the question about the sewer grant came up; inadvertently or not, Jay allegedly said that he and Ben had received a check for $400,000 to pay the matching fund portion of tne Army Corp of Engineers grant. If memory serves me correctly, the matching portion is $250,000. If you're like me, you're wondering when did they get approval to secure a loan on the behalf of the City of Lumberton. I don't recall it ever being mentioned at any meetings. But they never mentioned Richard Rose at any of the meeting but somehow he ended up with access to all of our files and was paid $1,600 to prepare the 2015 budget. So, where's the money? There's no such thing as private public money. Where did the loan come from, was it from private investors, and how are they going to repay this loan? But on the bright side, if they received a $400,000 loan, that leaves $150,000 in the budget that could be used to pay for a full police crew, vests, a couple of cars, allow the court clerk to work 40/week and give a much needed pay raise. I don't know where they're hiding the money but if they received that much money, it's going to show up in the budget. Maybe that's why citizens have to go through more obstacles than Indiana Jones just to get a copy of a published budget.
Another interesting fact was the agenda item to vote on a resolution for matching monies for the Small Municipality and Limited Population Grant Program. Again, they're saying tney don't have money to pay for part time police officers, so where are they getting money for another matching fund grant? Apparently there's some merit to what McGraw was saying. Another reason this agenda item caught my eye was the fact that I remembered that this was tne same grant Mayor Miriam Holder tried to secure. One of the requirements was to get citizens to submit letters showing there was a need for this grant. The board decided the grant was most needed in Ward 4 and Danny Davis had devised a plan of action that would minimize the damage to the streets. Well, here comes Ben Winston, discouraging the residents of Ward 4 and more specifically, the members of Sweet Beulah Baptist Church, where he was serving as pastor, from submitting letters to help secure this grant. Now that he's mayor, it seems like he's all for the grant now. I don't know what's going on but I think Jay allowed a secret to slip out. I find it interesting that Winston has been looking for ways to secure $250,000 to pay the required matching portion of a grant and according to his right hand man, they were able to get a loan for $150,000 more than was needed but Winston refused to give an on camera interview. Why keep something of that magnitude secret? You allegedly have money for grants and enough to pay for police but for some reason, this money is supposed to be a secret. All I can do is think of a line from a gospel song, "the enemy created walls but remember giants, they do fall ." What's done in the dark, will come to light. Watch God work!