Review of August 4, 2015 Board Meeting: The Everyone Deserve a Second Chance Edition

When I walked in the board room, those present were laughing and talking loudly. By the time I took my seat, they were whispering. The rest of the board trickled in sans Alderwoman Cora Rogers. I guess she couldn't hold up to her promise that she was going to vote for the negotion with the Gold Coast Skydivers to keep 10 trailers at the airport. Just a month ago, she was saying how happy she was that the trailers woukd be off the property. Telling half-truths and flip-flopping. It looks like Cora is well on her way to a dishonest career in politics. The room was still filled with whispers and then she walked in smelling like cigarettes and regrets. When I saw her friend following her in I knew she was getting rehired. I looked through the agenda and didn't see her name and I didn't see any postings of the job in the newspaper so I felt I was overreacting. But after she sat down, I noticed Jay McGraw wasn't flailing and threatening to leave the sandbox, I knew something was planned but it didn't happen until they were behind the closed doors of executive session. Typical.

There was a motion to allow use of the PRVO building. The board has asked Warren Byrd, District 2 Supervisor, to help Lumberton...again. Byrd will help secure a pad and 4 yards of clay gravel for the airport hanger. The board accepted the amendments to the contract with the Gold Coast Skydivers and they will be allowed to keep 10 trailers on the property in exchange for $350/month to rent the entire airport. To put it into perspective, I talked with two business people and they're paying $500 and $750/month to rent small buildings for their business. Aaron Lott broke business ties with Paul Ockmond after refusing to pay $3,000/month for the old Dirt Cheap building but we're suppose to be grateful that the pre-op version of Anna Nicole Smith is paying $350/month to lease an airport. The board would have us to believe they're bringing so much to the city but an influx of 50-60 skydivers every week is not enough to keep local resturants open. Unless, of course, they're not investing in this city. Hummmmmm!

The board approved minutes from Regular Call Meeting on July 7, 2015 and Special Call Meeting on July 28, 2015. The department heads gave their reports and Ben Winston addressed the board. There was an order to approve paid claims for the month of July, 2015 for General Fund $45,933.09 and $24,929.57 for WSOM. The board approved unpaid claims for the month of July, 2015 in the amount of $11,834.54 for the General Fund and $40,626.40 for WSOM. Order to approve payroll for the month of July 2015 in the amount of $61,173.98. I started flipping through the agenda because I thought Alderman Quincy Rogers specifically requested a budget amendment for the $13, 280.00 they approved to pay at the July 28, 2015 Special Call Meeting. The motion to hire Ms. Lanell Butler as a part time clerk at a rate of $8.50/hour failed for a lack of a second. The fact that there was no rebuttal confirmed why Meliss Willoughby was at the meeting.

The board voted to repair the Tahoe for the police department in the amount of $3,289.42. Order to promote Officer Daniel Wilczek to Captain effective August 4, 2015 passed. Before this year is over, Hobson Jr. will be police chief. I still don't trust him and how he went behind former chief, Adrian Fortenberry, in an effort to exonerate a friend on the fire department. I guess it's good to see that he'll do whatever it takes to help a friend but it's also interesting that he remained silent about all the other injustices taking place. Oh well. The board hired Anthony Preston Burkhalter as a part time certified officer at a rate of $10.50/hour. Per the recommendation of Mayor Winston, his words, the board hired Terold Martin, Sr. as a part time certified officer at a rate of $10.50/hour. The board hired Tiffany Ann McClure and Joel Burkhalter as auxillary police officers. The board approved a request to allow Chief Cowart to apply for a grant for police radios. Chief Cowart was approved to attend the Municipal Court Clerk Seminar in Jackson, Mississippi. The board then voted to go into executive session.

Minutes after going into executive session, the clerk came and tapped Melissa Willoughby on the shoulder and she got up to follow her. The person sitting behind me asked what that was about and while Melissa was walking out the room, I told the citizen that she's going into executive session to kiss Jay McGraw's ass so she can get her job back. Keep in mind that we already have two clerks and Melissa quit after cursing out Jay McGraw. But hey, I'm not shocked; that's what birds of a feather do; they stick together. I don't blame them for being themselves. I do, however, blame sellouts like Tommy Dukes, Jr. who go along with massah for a few crumbs from the table. For months, Chief Cowart has pleaded with this board to let court clerk, Betty Speights work 32 hours a week but Cora Rogers and Tommy Dukes voted the motion down, along with Kent Crider and Jay McGraw, over and over again. Since they discussed this matter in executive session, I don't know if Kent Crider asked his usual question, where's the money coming from? I guess it really didn't matter because Melissa is getting 32 hours a week at $9/hour. Not only was she hired after Betty Speights but she quit, cursed out an alderman and now has been rehired and given enough hours to receive full benefits (including insurance, vacation and comp time.) The job opening wasn't advertised and not on the agenda and it probably won't make it into the official minutes. Just a couple of months ago, a local woman named Beverly Wood volunteered to work in the clerk's office free of charge but for some reason, even after she returned to school to get her degree in Business Management, she wasn't considered for this position. I guess she's too educated and this administration is threatened by intelligence. But as Dukes allegedly said, everyone deserves a second chance and Melissa started immediately. Here's to another chance to curse out another alderman and quit.

Before citizens comments, Kent Crider wanted the agenda amended to allow someone to speak about buying the old hospital. But what happened next does not seem legal or ethical. The board directed the clerk to get the man's name, address and telephone number so he can be called when the property is advertised for bids. If they want him to have the property then he should, at his own expense, have the property appraised and sell him the building but we all know they want him to have the property at the lowest price possible and they're stacking the deck to ensure that he's the lowest bidder. Can anyone say deja vu? This is the same thing that happened with the old Movie Star building. The City of Lumberton got $50,000 for the building after paying $75,000 to have the roof repaired. The contractors paid over $400,000 for the building and tore it down to build the new Family Dollar Store. It amazes me that those on the board do not care that everyone, except Lumberton, profit from these deals. I don't know his plans for the land but by the time we, the citizens, find out, it will be sold for little of nothing. Winston then asked for some praise and the meeting was adjourned. Winston said he was going to see the vote count because he got a lot of people to support Tim Heldt, the guy running against Warren Byrd in the Republican primaries. Interesting! I guess I'll watch the election results. Good night!


  1. Since we're giving out second chances, why don't they bring back Stephanie Mullings? At least she know how to use BBI and prepare a budget and a budget amendment.

  2. I really appreciate all you do. Merlene is an inept crook and Melissa is going to help cover her crooked deeds. I don't know why you keep going to these meetings because it's obvious that no one cares. Let them completely destroy this town and maybe they'll realize you were telling the truth. Stop holding on for the opportunity to say I told you so because it won't matter. Leave the maggots alone.

  3. Update...the post says Melissa Willoughby -Nightengale quit her job. It was brought to my memory that she was terminated as a deputy clerk after an altercation with Jay McGraw.

  4. Would you get a real job already and quit laying on the government's dollar.


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