Supervisors give OK on generator

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, December 18, 2013

COURTLAND—Although the Southampton County Board of Supervisors was asked only asked for direction to give engineers for courthouse security improvements, the members went ahead and voted 6-1 to authorize the design of a 150,000 KW generator; the estimated cost of construction and installation is $192,000.

The generator would cover the entire building in the event of a power failure. The vote took place Monday during the supervisors’ meeting, which was rescheduled for the holidays.

Jeff Stodghill, PMA Architecture representative, explained during his presentation that he wasn’t asking the board to spend money, “but how you want the engineers to do the work.”

In reaction, Ronald West of the Berlin/Ivor District said he has mixed emotions on the issue.

“It’s a tough one,” said Barry Porter of the Franklin District. “The judges feel like they need a generator, and we should honor the judges’ request.”

In contrast, Glenn Updike of the Newsoms District said he was concerned about the whole thing.

“I don’t feel at this time it’s a necessity,” he said. “I can’t see it requires a high priority of the county. It’s awfully expensive.”

Later, Porter followed, “We’re voting to design tonight, but in reality, we’re voting to do it.”

West then made the motion to go with the $192,000 option. The others were $185,000 and $176,000.

The motion carried with Updike casting the opposing vote. In other business:

n Only one person spoke publicly during the citizens’ comment period, and the subject was the recent county staff reorganization. Ash Cutchin said the overlap between personnel and budget matters seemed confusing to him. He added that the board would have more credibility if they took such action when the public could have input. “I’d hate to see the local government sink to the federal level,” said Cutchin.

n Earlier during the approval of minutes, Updike wanted them to be amended to state he had asked for discussion to delay the vote on reorganization.

n In the interest of transparency, County Administrator Mike Johnson had made another presentation about the whys and wherefores of the reorganization. Following that, Updike said, “I’m confused. We approved the budget, but what good is the budget if we then disregard it?” Porter replied, “The budget is the plan.

“You don’t have perfect foresight. Circumstances change. You have to look and reaction and adjust the budget in the most efficient and effective way.” To which Updike said, “Just wait until the end of the year when we end up way short [on the budget].”

n After Bruce Phillips of the Capron District recused himself from discussion and vote, the public hearing was open on his request for a conditional use permit for sand mining. After explanation of the purpose and details, no one spoke against the matter, and the vote carried 6-0 in favor of the permit.

n For the purpose of electing a chairman, vice chairman and establishing date, location and times of regular meetings, the board will take such action on Monday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. at the supervisors’ usual meeting place in the county headquarters.