Courthouse issue raised again

Published 5:23 pm Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The issue about the proposed new courthouse and the voters’ referendum on whether to agree to it was a matter of some discussion throughout and even after the Southampton County Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday.
During citizens comment, Joe Vick told the members that he thinks the brochure the county is distributing is unbalanced, such as including 19 bullet points on the deficiencies of the existing historic building, and only four points about the efficiencies of a new courthouse.
“That’s it. It doesn’t seem to be educating voters on both sides,” he said. “There are no positives according to this brochure. That’s unfair, also inaccurate. It’s $26.5M if we vote Yes on the referendum. If no, then we’ll spend $26.2M [to renovate the existing building.] I’ve been told that if it’s no, than that will be automatic [the rehabilitation project].”
“The brochure made thinks murky, not clear,” Vick continued. “Does your lawyer [referring to county attorney Richard Railey] think it’s impartial? I’d like to see some discussion.”
On Aug. 22, a meeting took place in Boykins to inform residents. County Administrator Mike Johnson reported that about 30 people attended.
A City Council briefing will be on Monday, Sept. 11, in Franklin City Council Chambers, 207 W. 2nd Ave., starting at 7 p.m. Then on Tuesday, Sept. 12, the Courtland Town Office, 22219 Meherrin Road, will have a council briefing at the same time. The municipal building in Ivor will host the second community workshop on Tuesday, Sept. 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. The full schedule is available at the county’s website,
The aforementioned brochures are being actively distributed, including the Pumpkin Fest in Boykins and Fall Fest in Downtown Franklin,
Toward the end of the supervisors’ meeting, Vice Chairman Ronnie West explained, “I’m not supposed to say how I’ll vote or how others should vote.”
Immediately after, an audience member interjected “But that’s not an informed decision.”
Dr. Alan Edwards advised, “The more straightforward we are, the better off we’re going to be.”
Bruce Phillips said he’s seeking some oversight on the matter, and Barry Porter said he would not comment on the brochure.
Chairman Dallas Jones said the board can’t say yea or nay.
“If you call us, we can’t answer.”
Railey agreed that the board cannot comment and make the decision, adding, “Lay the facts out and let the people draw their own conclusions.”
The matter continued even after the meeting with several members being buttonholed into informal and unofficial talk.