March 19, 2010 10:54:00 AM
New Light Road residents Fred and Tamara Allen have attended nearly every meeting of the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors for the past six years, but the couple stormed out of the board meeting Thursday afternoon after a heated exchange with supervisors.
"That was totally out of control," Fred Allen said Thursday evening, several hours after the meeting.
Trouble started during the public comment period, when Fred Allen presented supervisors with a packet of information on possible funding strategies for road improvement projects in the county. He also said the Oktibbeha County Hospital, when it turns a profit, should pay money back to the county for the $27.5 million hospital renovation bond issue, and cited a complicated revenue agreement in place between the hospital and the county as a precedent for a new deal.
When Allen''s three minutes were up, board President Marvell Howard struck the table with his gavel and asked Allen to return to his seat. Allen continued to speak, however, and asked for an additional minute, but Howard was insistent on the three-minute time limit.
When Fred Allen sat down, Tamara Allen stood and asked the board to listen to her husband and meet with him to listen to his ideas.
Tensions flared again later in the meeting when District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer said he was "embarrassed" by the way the board has treated constituents throughout the years.
"I think when (Allen) comes to us and brings us all this stuff, it has merit," Trainer said.
Howard countered, however, saying all people must abide by the three-minute time limit and that not all information presented by the public should be treated as fact. He then cited Allen''s statements earlier in the meeting about the hospital giving revenue back to the county and said Allen doesn''t understand the agreement.
It was then when the Allens gathered their belongings and stormed out of the meeting, voicing their displeasure with the board as they went.
"Don''t misquote us," Tamara Allen said to Howard as she walked out the door.
The couple is upset not only because they believe Howard misrepresented Fred Allen''s statements about the hospital, but because they feel the board doesn''t take public input seriously. Fred Allen, a retired certified public accountant, presents the board with information on funding strategies and other issues nearly every meeting, but the couple feels the board is resistant to his suggestions.
"All we''ve tried to do over the years is offer suggestions because we would like to see our roads paved, we would like to see our schools taken care of," Tamara Allen said Thursday evening. "There''s always a way. If you can''t think of a way to make things better, why are you sitting there? And that''s what the Board of Supervisors have been doing for years. They''ve just been sitting there."
After the meeting, Howard said he only limited Allen to three minutes because that is the standard time limit during the public comment period. If Allen wants additional time, he can ask to be put on the meeting agenda, Howard said.
Howard also said he feels Allen has treated the board with "disrespect" over the years.
"He''s saying we''re silly, he''s saying we don''t know what we''re doing, he''s saying we should have all these roads paved," Howard said. "It''s just disrespect."
Fred Allen also said he feels the board has treated him with disrespect.
"We left because we felt like we couldn''t do anything," he said Thursday night. "When people disrespect you or people misquote you and you can''t say anything to defend yourself, what''s the point?"
Trainer said he wants to meet with Allen individually to look over some of his ideas for funding road projects.
Supervisors on Tuesday also opened bids for the new Oktibbeha County School District education building, planned near the intersection of Main Street and D.L. Conner Drive. The board took eight bids under advisement. The bids ranged from $1,751,000 to $2,152,341.
IIS commented at 3/19/2010 12:20:00 PM:
Take an example from BHO and just have a beer summit.
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