Sam Smith appointed to school board

Monday, February 28, 2011

A dozen Marshall County commissioners voted Monday night to appoint a former commission chairman to fill an open seat on the school board.

Sam Smith of Cornersville was set to be sworn in Tuesday, Commission Chairman Tom Sumners said after the vote. Smith will succeed Dee Dee Myers who resigned Jan. 3.

Two other men were nominated to succeed Owens. Former School Board Chairman Jerry Campbell who's also been a Cornersville police chief applied for the open board seat. Tommy Upton was nominated from the floor. Campbell received four votes. Upton received two.

Former Cornersville Mayor Gaye Wilson, who's also been an employee at the schools' central office, filed a letter to be nominated, but withdrew as she recognized a conflict of interest and state law prohibiting school system employees from serving on the board.

About 75 people were counted as observers seated around the 18 commissioners during the first part of the commission's monthly meeting when the appointment was accomplished.

Two commissioners sought to provide their time to speak on candidates for the open seat on the board, but commissioners voted 11-7 twice against opening the floor to those who are not commissioners.

That and other aspects of the meeting and previous politics apparently aggravated a number of county residents who attended to see, in person, how the decision was made.

Smith's appointment probably didn't come as a surprise since even some of the 400 people who signed a petition opposing Smith's election conceded that they had heard that Smith had 11 commissioners' votes for the seat more than two weeks before the meeting.

And while there might have appeared to be more people attending Monday night's meting to oppose Smith, he had friends and neighbors there supporting him.

Opponents seemed to be those who also vehemently fought a proposed but withdrawn plan for a new landfill on property Smith owns. He sold a purchase option to Waste Management, but the company that owns Cedar Ridge Landfill never exercised the option, explaining its geologists concluded the site was unsuitable.

Supporters said that's in the past and it should be forgiven if not forgotten. Supporters also said they felt Smith would be a good member of the school board. In prepared statements before the meeting, Smith said he felt that he could help develop a school budget with county commissioners. It's been the most contentious part of the budget for years.

The school budget is the largest part of any county's budget and the largest part of county property tax revenue is spent on education. State funding, however, is even greater.

Now you know how they voted and the general reaction. See the Wednesday edition of the Marshall County Tribune for what was said and how your commissioner voted.