BOS denies motion to reconsider appointment after locals voice concerns at Tuesday’s meeting

By JASMINE STEVERSON JSTEVERSON@DDTONLINE.COM,

Monday’s Washington County Board of Supervisors meeting brought in a large influx of residents who, in order to be accommodated comfortably, had to join the board in one of the courtrooms instead of the usual supervisors’ chambers.

After the decision at the first BOS meeting of the year was made by a vote of 3-2 respectively to appoint IMS Engineers of Jackson as the county engineer and Willie Griffin of Bailey & Griffin, P.A. as board counsel, several residents expressed they intended to voice their concerns about the matter.

The room had reached capacity to the point where there was standing room only for a crowd of at least 90 people. 

Listed as the 11th item on the agenda, the “concerned citizens of Washington County to discuss recent appointments” was moved up to be addressed first. 

Board president Carl McGee made sure to lay the ground rules for voicing concerns, making recommendations and addressing the board before he opened the floor for anyone interested in speaking.

The first to stand was Susan Shamoon, owner of Shamoon Advertising & Marketing.

“I stand here as a business owner for 34 years and a lifelong Greenvillian,” she said. “The people that are in this room today are concerned about what has transpired and the financial devastation from a business that just wrote this county a $30,000 check for their property taxes and just bought a building on the other side of themselves so that their granddaughter can come back and open a business.”

Shamoon expounded on the lengths Hooker Engineering has gone to as a business, community partner and often times sponsor for the organizations and entities in Washington County.

“This board knows what Hooker Engineering has done for this board, they’ve been called upon which other people will attest to it this morning … I don’t mind paying my taxes if they are fiscally dealt with responsibly,” a passionate Shamoon said.

But to fire a firm that does business with me and supports this community, that has been here for this community, that has spent numerous hours to develop a property out south of town so that all of our children can have a better life,” she said, referring to Camp Looking Glass.

Shamoon ended her address by asking the board to reconsider its vote and support the county’s local business and the people in the community who are providing jobs. 

Cary Karlson, former executive director for the Washington County Economic Alliance, addressed the board about the role Hooker Engineering has played in the community as well. 

“They helped us with so many projects and things that you’ll never know they did,” he said. “I want you to know they were great partners, we could count on them, and we knew they would do what we needed them to do and I think they are the long term benefit for the county.”

Some residents felt if the board appointed the current county engineer and attorney, it is a decision they, as residents, should respect and learn to deal with because “It’s not a lifelong appointment. We’ve all had to pick up the pieces,” Pastor Jackie Davis said.

Residents like Drew Newsom and Laverne Carter said they simply felt the appointment of board counsel was illogical and also asked the board to reconsider the county engineer appointment.

“I don’t want our money going to another county,” Carter said, “I don’t want that division in my county, in my city.”

Local resident Larry Mohammed said whenever he sees changes such as the one being discussed, he believes it can only get better.

“Black people are 78 percent of the county, so the question is, ‘What are the 78 percent going to do?’”  

Mohammed described the new appointments as “an opportunity.”

“A lot of decisions you all have made, we haven’t been happy with it, but we’ve had to live with it,” he said.

Freddie Hall, who is a local insurance agent, said he thinks the most important thing was the need for residents of the county to come together.

“Some of the most intelligent minds in this community are in this room today,” he said, “until we get off of this ‘black and white’ line, this community is not going to progress.”

After everyone had voiced their concerns and made their recommendations heard, District 1 supervisor Lee Gordon expressed his appreciation for them doing so.

Gordon then made a motion for the board to reconsider the appointment for county engineer. The motion was not seconded by anyone else on the board.

Washington County residents who addressed the board included: Susan Shamoon, Cary Karlson, Charles Lesure, James Ceranti, Paul Mathis, Brent Johnson, Jackie Davis, Larry Mohammed, Stanley Ayres, Collins Brent, Laverne Carter, Freddy Hall, Drew Newsom, John Cox, Malcolm Jackson, Freida Hardy, Jimmy Painter, Bill Brozovich and Susan Simmons.