Tuesday morning’s Carter County Fiscal Court meeting began with friendly chats and the return of a longtime observer to the front row, although it quickly descended to accusations and allegations as the county judge and one magistrate exchanged heated comments with the county jailer, a county resident and the editor of the local newspaper before the elected body could be called into a closed session.
Pre-meeting conversations were neighborly, ranging from ailments to the indiscretions of youth to heartfelt welcomes for Corky Clevenger, who returned to his traditional spot on the front row Tuesday morning after being absent for several sessions due to health concerns.
Magistrates quietly approved a measure to receive approximately a state allocation for $1.7 million for secondary road improvements, including $260,000 designated for county roads.
County Coroner George Sparks also seemed to have a receptive audience when he asked to set a work session with fiscal court members, explaining the coroner’s office has many responsibilities which require attention, including the non-reimbursed use of vehicles and supplies from his personal business, Sparks Funeral Home. Sparks was advised to gather information for a work session at a to-be-determined date.
Board members also voted unanimously to approve a resolution authorizing the county judge-executive to seek contractors for replacement of the Proctor Branch Bridge. While the resolution caused nearly no discussion among magistrates, the vote became a major point before the meeting could come to a close.
Judge-Executive Charles Wallace and Jailer R.W. Boggs briefly disagreed about an outstanding bill for inmate medical services. Boggs said he had discussed the situation with the billing agency, who agreed approximately $8,000 of the services listed should have been charged to individuals and not the jail. Wallace countered the county owes the bill because the individuals were at the jail when transported to the hospital, although Boggs said the law clearly states a person released on a medical bond, or any other bond, is no longer an inmate and not the jail’s financial responsibility.
“Once you’re bonded out of jail you’re free. I question why we want to pay more for people we don’t owe it for,” Boggs said.
As the judge and jailer expressed their disagreement, magistrate Clifford “Sodbuster” Roe suggested county officials call someone “to find out what’s going on with this trash here,” and later put the thought into the form of a motion. Wallace also instructed the clerk to read a statute he felt confirmed his stance on the subject.
Before magistrates could vote to take the meeting into a closed session to discuss pending litigation, Leeann Akers of the Grayson Journal-Times asked to go on record stating resolution 202, authorizing the county judge to find contractors for the Proctor Branch Bridge project, was not valid because it had not been advertised according to state law. Wallace said the resolution had been advertised and countered that the law allows the county to advertise in a publication of choice. When Akers attempted to read the applicable statute, Wallace interrupted and said, “I don’t care what you have!” and criticized the hometown paper for printing what he considers to be “hearsay.”
Akers refuted that she printed hearsay and had documents and email to back up her statements.
Magistrate Roe jumped into the conversation, saying Akers “told a lie about me cussing,” among other allegations including that Akers had conspired with Boggs “to sabotage the negotiation” for a new reimbursement rate for the county detention center’s federal inmates, and that he was not qualified to act on the county’s behalf.
Roe said Akers prints “anything” Boggs asks and described her as “sickening,” before stating, “Let’s take it to the courtroom. I’m ready. I’m sick and tired of you.” Roe also threatened Boggs with “court” at another point, saying he had two witnesses to back him up (about his alleged cursing). Roe further stated Akers reported negative things Boggs has said about him, but will not print that Boggs had “beat them people out of $721,000,” prior to being elected jailer without clarifying further.
Minutes later, Roe reprimanded audience member Mignon Colley for a jail-related report she gave to the court last year. “Figures lie and liars figure,” Roe said when Colley attempted to respond.
After the meeting, Wallace said no action was taken from discussions in closed session, although he noted the county’s EMA Director Tommy Thompson was called in to clarify the source cited for advice about the state’s requirements for legal advertising. Wallace said Thompson advised the opinion was from an official in the state’s Division of Water.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at