JECDB executive to woo directors

Friday, October 31, 2008

Attendance at meetings of the 21-member Joint Economic and Community Development Board for Marshall County has become a concern among members of the state-mandated board's executive committee.

While the idea of removing a director for lack of attendance was discussed at a recent executive committee meeting, that panel of mostly mayors agreed to consult with other directors to ascertain their continued interest.

"A full board ought to be there at least 50 percent of the time," JECDB Chairman Edmund Roberts said when the executive group met last week. "So, with quarterly meetings, they should be there two times a year."

State law requires each county to have a JECDB to coordinate economic and community development efforts. Those include meeting the requirements for a local government to be declared a Three Star Community. That status increases chances for a state or federal grant and might reduce the required percentage for a matching grant.

Marshall County created a local board with more than the state required representatives and, while a diversity of opinions was apparently sought, a significant portion of the additional representatives hasn't been attending on a regular basis.

Directors probably ought to be consulted to ascertain their "situation," Chapel Hill Mayor Carl Cooper said during the executive committee meeting on Oct. 21. Who ever speaks with the several members who've not maintained regular attendance should find out whether the issue is lack of interest or a lack of time because of a business work schedule.

Linda Mulliniks, a representative from the Petersburg community, had asked whether a board member should be seen as having resigned if they miss three meetings in a row.

Elizabeth McDow asked if the executive committee should make a recommendation to the full board.

Roberts endorsed the idea, but Lewisburg Mayor Bob Phillips warned against acting too quickly.

"This goes back to the age-old problem of whether they feel important," Phillips said.

The mayor clarified the point about how decisions made by the executive committee might appear to only need ratification by the board and that other board members may feel as though the JECDB's leadership may "just want them for the final vote."

Chapel Hill Town Administrator Mike Hatten said recommendations to the board should be the substance of real decisions.

JECDB Executive Director Mike Wiles recommended consultations with other board members, especially those who've not been attending the quarterly meetings.

Phillips supported that idea by comparing it to how City Manager Eddie Fuller takes City Council agenda packages to the members of the Council and visits with them to discuss up-coming business.

Given those concerns for JECDB directors' attendance and a need to have their counsel on issues, the board's chairman suggested the executive committee revisit the issue.

McDow moved to make it a subject for the next quarterly meeting when a policy decision might be made with input from the affected directors.

Executive Committee members agreed unanimously.

They'd been provided a list of the 21 voting members and a matrix of their attendance at the most recent six meetings of the board.

That list shows members' attendance records as follows: Joe Boyd Liggett, 5 of 6; Amos Davis, 3 of 5; Phillips, 4 of 6; John Cowden, 1 of 3; Cooper, 6 of 6; Richard Medley, 3 of 6; Taylor Brandon; 4 of 6; Roberts, 6 of 6; Eddie Wiles, 6 of 6; Hatten, 6 of 6; Craig Michael, 2 of 6; Dave Kennedy, 4 of 5; Mickey King, 1 of 6; McDow, 5 of 6; Chad Fox, 1 of 3; Phyllis Brown, 1 of 4; Ron Aldridge, 1 of 5, and; Dean Dickey, 5 of 6.

The list shows three vacant seats on the board.

The next quarterly meeting of the JECDB is at noon on Dec. 16 but a location had not been announced as of Monday.