March 3, 2009
Neal Wagner -
Discussions of a Thursday "shoving match" fueled a verbal dispute between Lowndes County District 1 Supervisor and Board President Harry Sanders and District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks during a Monday board meeting.
"I would just like to apologize for what happened in here last week," Brooks said as he addressed the board. "That puts us all in an awkward situation, and you all expect something different from the people elected to serve you."
Brooks'' comments came a few days after he and Sanders argued over the placement of a political flyer on the front door of the Lowndes County Courthouse.
The flyer depicted an upcoming fundraiser at the Trotter Convention Center being held to celebrate Brooks'' 25 years of service to the county, according to the flyer. Though the flyer was posted on the courthouse door for several days, Sanders did not notice it until Feb. 24, he said.
"It was advertising a political event. It''s illegal to post political advertisements on courthouse grounds," Sanders explained after Monday''s meeting. "I took the flyer down last Tuesday, and he confronted me about it last Thursday and asked why I had taken it down.
"I told him he shouldn''t have had it there, but he was welcome to put it on the (courthouse) bulletin board," Sanders added. "That sparked an argument, and it just went on from there."
After Brooks and Sanders argued in Lowndes County Administrator Ralph Billingsley''s office, Brooks re-posted the flyer on the front door and notified Sanders, the District 1 supervisor said.
"At that point, we were in the supervisors'' boardroom and he came in and told me he had re-posted the flyer. He told me if I was going to take it down, I should follow him and do it then," Sanders said. "Then we started arguing and he began bumping me with his stomach."
After the argument left the boardroom and spilled into the courthouse hallway, the two continued arguing until Sanders pushed Brooks away with his hands, according to Brooks.
Although Brooks apologized to the board Monday morning, he initially named every board member except Sanders before doing so.
"Last week, you called me an atheist and every other name I can think of," Sanders told Brooks. "We have a differing of opinions, but I have always treated you with respect.
"You can try to come in here and sound like a peacemaker this morning, but you apologized to everyone but me," Sanders added.
"Harry, I apologize," Brooks responded. "I called you some names and I apologize for that. But I am not a child, and I will not be treated as such."
Following the meeting, Brooks declined comment on the matter.
"Basically, Harry and I got into a shoving match last week," Brooks offered. "But that''s all I want to say. I want to get it behind me and let it die a slow death."
Tag renewals, E-911, FEMA grant
In other business, the board:
--Heard from Lowndes County Tax Assessor/Collector Greg Andrews that the county will be late mailing out vehicle license tag renewal cards for March.
"We like to get those cards out at the end of the month, but we are actually out of them right now and waiting for Jackson to send us some more," Andrews explained.
"We want everyone to know that they are more than welcome to come in at any time to renew their tags this month," Andrews added. "We just won''t be mailing out the renewal cards right now."
--Made plans to study the reasons behind an E-911 emergency generator failure during a Friday thunderstorm.
"We had an electrical outage, and the generator did not crank up when we needed it," explained Lowndes County Administrator Ralph Billingsley. "We later found out that there are three batteries on that generator, and three of them failed."
Because the generators are automatically tested each Tuesday, authorities are unsure why the system did not function Friday night.
"It would be a surprise to me if it ran on Tuesday and then didn''t crank up on Friday," Billingsley said. "We will be looking into that to determine what went wrong."
The generator was non-functional for a little more than one hour before E-911 officials replaced the batteries and restored power to the E-911 call center. During the power outage, E-911 dispatchers used battery-powered radios and other equipment to direct emergency traffic.
--Announced the county had been selected to receive a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The grant will be funded 95 percent by FEMA and 5 percent by the county, bringing the county total to about $8,000 said Billingsley.
Funds will be used to purchase gas-powered generators for each of the county''s five volunteer firefighter districts.