The Transylvania Times -

Board Members Speak Out On Meeting Attendance-Transylvania County, NC


June 13, 2019

At the beginning of Tuesday’s regular Transylvania County Board of Commissioners’ meeting, Commission Chairman Mike Hawkins noted that Commissioner Jason Chappell was absent because he was on vacation, but he didn’t know why Commissioner Will Cathey, who is also a local attorney, was absent and speculated that he may be in court.

At the end of the meeting during commissioner comments, Commissioner David Guice talked about the role of a commissioner.

“In an effort to spend the necessary time that is required of a commissioner, especially during budget sessions, I have to say that it’s very difficult,” he said. “Budgets are complex to begin with, but it makes it easier when you are sitting with your fellow commissioners and you have an opportunity to discuss matters. It just makes the process easier. I am somewhat disappointed that we, and I’m not speaking about vacation or planned events away from commissioner meetings, or emergencies, but I just feel that we’ve been somewhat shortchanged, as it is when commissioners don’t come to meetings or there is a history of missing meetings or just getting up and walking out of meetings.”

Guice said to Hawkins that he wanted to “go on record” that this is “something that bothers (him).” Guice said he chose to retire to the county and to “stay engaged and involved” and that he gives a lot of time and energy to try and help the county move forward and address issues, but that the county needs all elected commissioners to come to meetings and “be prepared.”

“I know this is a public setting, and I am trying to be very careful as to what I say, but anyone who has been participating with us (can) recognize that there is an issue going on, and we need to find a way to address this that will produce a good outcome for the citizens of Transylvania County,” he said.

Commissioner Page Lemel said she “really appreciated” Guice “going on record,” particularly since Guice is retired, unlike the other four commissioners.

Lemel described herself as having three full-time jobs: as a commissioner, owner of Keystone Camp and as a mother.

“(A commissioner’s) job does takes a heavy commitment of time and energy and effort to do it well, and to serve our citizens well, and I do think that it is appropriate for us to hold our entire board to the same high standard of effort,” she said.

Hawkins said he agreed with the “sentiment” that being a commissioner is an “extreme commitment.”

“It gets harder and more complicated every year,” he said. “That’s literally true, and you have to be willing to commit time and energy to it. And the issue is that you can’t fake it, particularly with your fellow commissioners. And that presents issues in terms of effectiveness with fellow commissioners. I agree that we certainly have an issue that needs to be resolved in a positive way. We are working on it, and we will continue to work on it.”

After being elected to the board in November, Cathey indicated he had an issue, because of his job as an attorney, with attending the regular commissioners’ meetings that are held at 9 a.m. on the second Tuesday of the month. Chappell, who works at Blue Ridge Community College, has also voiced concerns about the daytime meetings. The commissioners’ other regular twice-monthly meeting is held at 7 p.m. on the fourth Monday of the month. Previously, both meetings had been held on Mondays in the evening. Commissioners had changed the time for one of the meetings after members of the public complained, for one, that they were uneasy about driving at night to attend.

In May, commissioners approved changing their meeting schedule, beginning July 1, from 9 a.m. on the second Tuesday of the month to 4 p.m. on the second Monday of the month; and changing the 7 p.m. meeting on the fourth Monday of the month to 6 p.m. on the same day.

Of the 18 meetings that have occurred since Dec. 3, 2018, according to county records, Cathey was absent at the 9 a.m. meeting on Dec. 18; arrived one minute before adjournment at the 9 a.m. meeting on Jan. 8; was absent at the 6 p.m. special meeting with the Board of Education on Jan. 16; arrived at 10:25 a.m. at the 9 a.m. meeting on Feb. 19; was absent at the 9 a.m. meeting on May 14; was absent at the 6 p.m. special meeting (budget presentation) on May 23; left the budget workshop meeting held at 6 p.m. on June 6 at 7:55 p.m. (The meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.); and, as previously mentioned, was absent at the 9 a.m. meeting on June 11.

Over the same period, Chappell was only absent at the June 11 meeting.


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