Citizen quizzes supervisors about industrial prospect

Published 10:11 am Wednesday, October 26, 2011

COURTLAND—Courtland businessman Ash Cutchin on Monday asked Southampton County supervisors about allegations that an unidentified board member attempted to interfere with an industrial prospect’s plans to build a plant in the county.

No one acknowledged hearing the rumor that a supervisor threatened the company should it build in the county.

“It’s third-hand information,” said Supervisor Carl Faison. “A rumor may have some validity to it. If so, that’s a problem.”

The owner of Ash Cutchin Real Estate Appraisal, Cutchin told the board he heard the rumor and hoped it wasn’t true. He also said that if it is true, the supervisor should admit to it and resign.

Cutchin did not name the supervisor.

“I have heard of one very disturbing … extremely disturbing, situation concerning economic development and the possibility of a company coming to the county and bringing jobs, and yet being strongly advised — some would say threatened — by a supervisor not to locate on their first choice of a site.”

Cutchin questioned whether a confidentiality agreement was broken.

“I suggest that if any of you supervisors, economic employees or other officials are aware of improprieties and you remain silent, then you are not serving the best interests of the county’s citizens but instead are pursuing a personal agenda or being an accomplice to such,” he said. “And that action, while it may be perfectly legal, certainly, in my mind, seems unethical.”

Supervisor Ronnie West said any such behavior by a supervisor would not be acceptable, while Supervisor Walt Young said “third-hand stuff bothers” him.

“(My father used to say) don’t believe anything you hear and half of what you see,” Young said.

Cutchin also asked if the supervisors have a code of ethics.

“I agree with a code of ethics,” Faison said. “Even if we don’t have one, you should live by one.”