Commissioners, as expected, elect Brown

Dec. 02, 2013 @ 08:33 PM

Tommy Hester said it seemed like a fast year. Beside him, Deborah Brown smiled and nodded her head in agreement.

Hester’s year as the chairman of the Vance County commissioners came to a close at the outset of Monday’s meeting. Brown, the vice chairwoman the past year, was elected the new chairwoman and Archie Taylor Jr. was elected vice chairman. Both were unanimous.

“I couldn’t ask for a better board to work with,” Hester said in his outgoing remarks.

The board has a gentleman’s agreement to rotate the chairmanship by district. Hester represents District 7, Brown District 1 and Taylor District 2. Commissioners who don’t wish to take the responsibility have the option to decline either position.

“I want to thank Jerry Ayscue and the county personnel,” Hester said. “And I want to thank Deborah Brown. She always reminded me discussion, discussion, discussion.”

Brown offered thanks to fellow board members for entrusting chairmanship with her again.

The board also unanimously approved several appointments, including Kelly Grissom as clerk to the board, Ayscue as county manager, David Beck as finance director and Jonathan Care as county attorney. Building custodians approved included Brad Weatherington, Linwood Martin, Morris White and Antonia Pedroza.

Hester shared from a list of more than a dozen accomplishments by the board in the past year, adding, “This is just a few of the things the board has worked together to get done.”

The majority was related to the county’s water project. Taps are operating in Phase 1A and construction has begun in phases 2A and 2B. Commissioners have also added a deputy county manager position, gone paperless at meetings, partnered with a ministerial alliance and approved construction of a farmers market building.

The board also approved a budget without a tax increase. Before Monday’s meeting, Hester and his colleagues said that would be the biggest challenge in the year to come.

“We have gone a number of years and not done anything as far as raising taxes, but that’s a major challenge this year,” Hester said. “We can’t keep going into our savings.

“I’m the person that likes to have some savings, and obviously ours has been dwindling. The more things you can do to consolidate and work with other governments, and find grants, and work with City of Henderson to consolidate — I see that as a major challenge.”

“This board has made some financial commitments that we’re going to have to pay for,” said commissioner Dan Brummitt. “It’s going to be a challenging year. I don’t see any huge increases in revenues to offset these.”

Hester’s leadership drew the praise of his colleagues.

“Although the board had nothing to do with the education conference, as a businessman, he used his influence to get the chamber involved with that and I think it turned out very well,” Taylor said. “A lot of initiatives have showed up with Tommy that have been good for the county.”

“Tommy did an excellent job,” said commissioner Eddie Wright. “He was inclusive, in that, he included everybody in his realm of thinking. He gave all the commissioners a chance to come up with ideas and see ideas go forth. He had a lot of patience. That’s one thing about Tommy, he had a lot of patience.”

And Brown, who is also current chairwoman of the board of trustees at Vance-Granville Community College, also drew praise from her fellow commissioners.

“She’s got the water going in her district, so it’s an excellent time for leadership there,” said commissioner Gordon Wilder. “I’m sure she’ll be glad to take that rein and move it forward.”

Wilder said conditions will be tough.

“The stimulus money is gone, a lot of grant money is gone or going,” Wilder said. “It makes it very difficult for a Tier 1 county to do some things we’d like to do without help from, for lack of a better term, our richer neighbors.”

“She’ll do as well as the rest of our board does in supporting her,” Brummitt said of Brown. “She’s been around long enough to know what’s going on.

“The whole thing in the end is how the board performs.”

Contact the writer at awooten@hendersondispatch.com.