MT. VERNON — Town hall meetings will be held at five locations in Jefferson County to educate the public about needed courthouse repairs.
A special committee appointed by County Board Chairman Robert White conducted their first public meeting on Monday night in the County Board room and concluded the five town hall meetings would be held in the communities of Waltonville and Woodlawn, at grade schools in Dix (Rome) and southeast Mt. Vernon (Dodds), at Webber High School and the Rolland W. Lewis Community Building. The meetings will be held at 7 p.m. when they can be scheduled in the next three months.
While there were differing opinions on the function of the committee, Committee Chairman Randy Edwards simply stated, “We want to inform the public.” He added, “I am the people’s representative, and that’s what I want us to do.” Member Jeremy Hall, who resigned from the board last week, indicated he thinks the committee should explain the issue and “listen, more than talk.” Edwards urged Hall to remain on the committee, although Hall declined the offer. Hall said he will participate in the Town Hall meetings, although he also declined to lead any of the public forums. His resignation was held until the next full board meeting on Oct. 28.
The committee also decided to conduct at least two tours of the courthouse facilities, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., respectively, on a Saturday to be coordinated through Sheriff Roger Mulch.
Hall, Edwards and James Malone were committee members in attendance. Tommy Hayes was absent. Other board members attending were: Chairman White, John Keele, Jeff Williams and Jim Laird. A representative from M360 — the company which proposed $7.8 million in courthouse repairs — was also in attendance.
“There are two well known commodities in this community: trust and honesty. You have one hell of a hurdle to climb,” said former County Board member Dexter Edmison during the public input portion of the meeting. “There is no trust right now, and that goes back to the jail. This county teetered on the brink of bankruptcy. You’ve got to build trust, and you build it through honor and respect.”