Category Archives: Farmville Herald

Cumberland Supervisor Chair Bill Osl Batting .000

A recent newspaper article in this area remarked that Bill Osl had done everything but kneel down and beg Farmville to rejoin the Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC), an organization purportedly involved in helping localities with planning and economic development issues.

Farmville had declined to renew their membership in the organization in April of this year, after a year of ‘trial’ membership to see if it was still worth the money that the town had contributed to them. Buckingham County had also declined to renew, leaving the organization short of its operating budget for this year.

The CRC is the invention of Mr. Osl, who forced the previous group out of existence by subverting its mission from within. Jack Houghton was the chair of the Piedmont Planning District, until he was fired in the interest of a different organization, the CRC, take it’s place. Sources have told me over the years that they could not figure out what the CRC had been doing, especially with the amount of money that was contributed to their organization. Rumors of the President of the CRC (Danny Fore, nephew of the Prince Edward County Board Chair) taking expensive trips overseas, and other suspicious activities, were abundant.

Dr Edward I. Gordon, a Town of Farmville Councilor, remarked when this was being discussed by the council, that the CRC had never done anything to help the town, so he couldn’t see any reason to continue to pay the money to the CRC.

Ever since the Town of Farmville dropped out, Mr. Osl has been back several times, pleading his case with the Town Council, to no avail.

A few weeks ago, the Richmond Times Dispatch had an article about the counties involved in developing Cobb Creek Reservoir in Cumberland County. The counties, Henrico and Powhatan, declined to continue to participate in this project. The reservoir would have stored water during high river levels, and released water for downstream partners during drought conditions.

These counties all said that the price Cumberland County was asking for the water was considerably more than they want to pay, and the payment was in a strange form as well. Powhatan County Board of Supervisors Chair Robert R. Cosby stated, “We don’t have that kind of money. Cumberland just wanted more than we could afford.”

“They were trying to make it an economic benefit of having it in Cumberland County”, Cosby said.

Cumberland County had requested annual payment, which Henrico and Powhatan Counties balked at, in lieu of taxes to cover various planning activities, staffing positions in the Sheriff’s Department and general government, training and equipment. This would be on top of capital costs based on their projected use of the facility.

“It’s over,” said Cosby said of Powhatan’s involvement.

For our next failure, we have rumors of the operator of the proposed landfill in Cumberland County taking a look at the economic viability of the project. Sources tell me that Republic Waste, which bought Allied Waste and Waste Management late last year, may pay the penalties involved in saying no to this project. The original contract was with Allied Waste, and all manner of things were promised to the citizens of Cumberland County in return for their right to do business hauling garbage and storing it forever in Cumberland County.

There is an interesting timeline on all this of course, in terms of projected revenue from a landfill being spoken for to fund projects large and small in the county. In December of 2006, a meeting of the Board of Supervisors was held, at which the decision for guaranteeing the loans needed to build new schools was made.

At that meeting, after some embarrassing public number-crunching, the Supervisors agreed that the contract for the new schools should be signed, based on future revenue projections of taxes on equipment at the not-as-yet-approved landfill. The Supervisors also agreed, that in a ‘worst case scenario’, $.05 on the taxes (property) of the county would be enough to cover what they needed for debt service.

Throughout the next year and a half, that $.05 figure changed many times, ending with the last known public comment being that of Bill Osl to a reporter concerning the opening of the schools last August.

The county will pay the debt service on the school with money generated by a landfill planned for Cumberland. Some leaders say they would not have been able to build the school without landing the landfill.

“It would have been impossible,” said William Osl, chairman of the county’s Board of Supervisors. “We would have had to have a 50 percent-plus property-tax increase to pay the debt service. Remember, that would be on a community with a $15,000 per-capita income and 15 percent of its people below the poverty level.”

Source: RTD article (archive) by Jamie C. Ruff, 2008.

Between those two dates, Bill Osl and sometimes his number one mate Cliff White, tossed out figures in a scare campaign just in time for the 2007 local elections. I had written a letter to the Editor of the Farmville Herald which was published, asking which figures were right. This is from October, 2007:

Towards the end of the meeting, there was a discussion about what would happen if the landfill did not materialize for some reason. The figure of five cents ($.05) increase in the property tax was discussed, and it was agreed before they took a vote on the construction contract that this would be an acceptable level of increase, and one that would cover the needs of the debt service on the school financing.

The reason I bring this up now is that Mr. Osl, Mr. White, and their supporters have recently taken to throwing figures around in newspaper accounts and public appearances that do not match the above scenario. Both Mr. Osl and Mr. White have been quoted as saying that a $.24 increase in the property taxes would need to be instituted in order to balance the books in case the landfill did not locate in Cumberland County. At least one of their supporters, in a letter to the editor, claimed that property taxes would need to be raised by 50% to accomplish these payments on the debt. At the current rate of $.59, that would be an additional (slightly more than) $.29 added to the property tax rate, for a total of $.88.

These claims are irresponsible and harmful to the true needs of our county, and sound a lot like a fear campaign to me. If their goals of improving our county and providing for its citizens are to be believed, then these tactics do not serve those goals. If the ideas are sound, and the deliberations are sincere, why would fear be needed to accomplish these goals?

I hope that all citizens will contact their supervisors and find out what the true figures are. The only thing worse than the county being in substantial debt, is to be mislead and taken down a path of fear, misinformation and feeling like we have been taken advantage of.

I have only one question now for the Supervisors in Cumberland County.

Were you lying then, or are you lying now? We should be told since we will be paying the bill for your actions in these matters.

Farmville Officials Express Disdain Over Misleading Illegal Closed Meeting by Prince Edward County BOS

In speaking about a proposed meeting with Luck Stone Corporation, Farmville’s Town Manager and one of it’s members were quoted in the Farmville Herald by Ken Woodley expressing their disdain for the recent ‘meeting’ of the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors.

I think the meeting we had at Hampden-Sydney (College) was very embarrassing for me, and I think for council. We were invited to a luncheon to hear about a prospective industry and it turned out to be a closed meeting of the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors…I did not know that they had called a meeting to order and I did not know they’d gone into closed session. And that could be construed, on the part of the council, as being a participant in an illegal meeting, and we did not have a meeting. This was just a luncheon that we were invited to for an announcement of an industry…

Gerald Spates, Farmville Town Manager

(The link is only good until they put next week’s paper on the internet, and even then over half of this article does not appear on the website of the newspaper.)

More:

(Dr. Edward I. Gordon, member of council said that in his opinion) …we were brought into a situation as unwitting participants in something I consider a violation of the Freedom of Information Act. I was not comfortable being there. And I want to say that I felt like I shouldn’t have been there and I feel like it was wrong…They may have gone into closed session, but what about us? We didn’t know what we were getting into…

Dr. Edward I. Gordon, member of council

I think their words speak for themselves, and would sound very interesting in front of a judge.

Previously: Citizens, Reporters Turned Away From Public Meeting

Prince Edward County has Meeting at HSC With 1.5 day notice

Why is This Legal?

I have been talking for some time here about the sorry state of government in Prince Edward County, to my south, and to me a lot of the problems come down to one question really.

Why is it legal for James Ennis to be both County Attorney and Commonwealth’s Attorney?

As you may have read in many a previous article of mine, there was a Grand Jury inquiry into shady dealings with land belonging to the county which produced very lukewarm results considering the facts of this travesty of governance.

If Mr. Ennis hold both offices, how does he defend the County and the region at the same time? Doesn’t this create a huge conflict of interest?

More dealings of the county since the one referenced above have Mr. Ennis’ fingerprints all over them. A telephone vote of Supervisors (illegal in Virginia) to approve a pipeline for water from wells that weren’t drilled with permits, to a private development that already has a water supply. Complicity in hiding documents concerning the above land sale. ‘Throwing’ the Grand Jury in order for the County to not be named in a fraud suit. These and many more are there waiting for resolution by the law.

Jack Houghton and Supervisor Lacy Ward have waged this battle, mostly by themselves, and it is time for Prince Edward County government to be called on all of this nefarious activity.

How can Mr. Ennis both prosecute himself and defend himself?

Full Circle with Watkins Abbitt and Tenaska

The Farmville Herald has been reporting on the proposed power plant in Buckingham County. The article details how Jack Wilson, attorney for Tenaska, echoed the Planning Commission approval of the project.
Wait a second. Jack Wilson?

Jack Wilson that works for Hunton and Williams law firm? This Hunton and Williams?

Industry / Amount

Hunton & Williams $1,000

Yes, it’s the same Hunton and Williams that donated $1,000 to Watkins Abbitt this last cycle. Yes, it is Watkins Abbitt’s district in which the Tenaska/Dominion power plant will be located.

Company / Amount

Tenaska $1,250

Yes, same Tenaska.

Company / Amount

Dominion $250

Yes, same Dominion.

Organization / Amount

Va Assn of Electric Cooperatives $2,850

Yes, they too stand to profit from this deal by having another source of electricity to sell.

Look, the thing is, whoever wants to contribute to candidates should do that. But why don’t we stop wasting everyone’s time in thinking that there is no connection with these donations and this power plant. Wouldn’t it be better in the long run to just locate your business on the merits of the location, etc.?

Why all this money passing around? Candidates are not the only ones either. I am not sure what political parties, including my own Democratic Party gains by taking money from someone like Allied Waste. Is the party now signing off on the location of more dumps in Virginia?

Politics is seriously messed up when we can’t get a new power plant without multiple contributions from businesses and industries to the area’s government representatives. And by government, I mean you and me.

Prince Edward County Citizens Taken for a Ride Again

In what must seem like deja vu all over again, Prince Edward County residents are learning of the sleight-of-hand that routinely passes for governance in their county. Wilkie Chaffin, a writer for the Southside Messenger, has been detailing some of these abuses, partly because they need to be heard by residents, and partly due to the fact that the Farmville Herald doesn’t cover items that might be embarrassing to their friends. And by ‘friends’, I mean the people that control county government right now.

In a very revealing article in the Messenger a few weeks ago, Mr Chaffin laid out the facts as to whether there is or ever was a USDA Rural Development loan guarantee by that organization for the ill-conceived Poplar Hill Golf Course.

Mr Chaffin spent several months researching this and asking for documents. What he found is a textbook case of the government doing whatever it wants to do without oversight or even the truth. In 1999, a Community Development Authority was authorized by the supervisors, in order to develop a golf course on land in the county, just south of the Town of Farmville limits.

Mr. Chaffin picks up the story from there.

In April of 2007, Norm Krueger, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Poplar Hill Community Development Authority (CDA), told the Prince Edward Board of Supervisors that the CDA did not have a golf course construction loan guarantee from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). On numerous occasions over the previous three years, CDA officials have said that there was a guarantee from the Rural Development office of USDA for an $8.8 million loan to build the Poplar Hill golf course (now called the Manor Golf Club) in Prince Edward County. Although the privately owned land at Poplar Hill has recently been sold to the Herberton Group, the golf course is still publicly owned by the Poplar Hill CDA. Documents obtained by this reporter from the United States Department of Agriculture and other sources, along with an interview with a USDA official, provide an interesting story about the firm used as the lender/broker for the loan, the numerous applications for the loan guarantee, and the responses by USDA, and about what happened after an initial favorable USDA response. In particular, two specific conclusions about the loan are evident: a) the CDA never actually had a USDA loan guarantee, and b) the firm chosen to act as broker for the loan and to represent the CDA in applying for the USDA loan guarantee had serious legal problems.

There are two more short passages that I will quote.

Another USDA concern was that the closing documents had not been received by the USDA Bond Council nearly eleven months after the closing of the loan. This was a violation of USDA requirements. The other two concerns mentioned in this letter had to do with proposed CDA activities that might have an impact on the CDA’s financing. USDA records indicate that neither the lender, Dolphin & Bradbury, nor the CDA ever responded to this letter. In any case, the conditional loan requirements for the USDA loan guarantee were not met by the deadline of May 30, 2006. The money for the possible loan guarantee was “deobligated” in early 2007. In spite of what CDA officials had been saying over more than a two year period, a July 12, 2007 USDA letter to this reporter stated that Dolphin & Bradbury “never requested that Rural Development issue a Loan Note Guarantee and never asked for an extension of time to meet these [loan guarantee] conditions.”

According to a 7-17-07 article in The Bond Buyer, Robert Bradbury reported that Dolphin & Bradbury still exists as a corporation, but has been shut down. In spite of the fact that Dolphin & Bradbury has ceased operations since its two securities fraud problems, it is still the lender under the terms of the Prince Edward loan documents. According to Norm Krueger, Chairman of the Prince Edward community development authority Board of Directors, the money for the loan was obtained when Dolphin & Bradbury sold Certificates of Participation in the loan to institutional investors. A Certificate of Participation (COP) is a share of the revenues of an agreement made by a governmental agency. The Prince Edward County Poplar Hill Community Development Authority remains obligated to these COP holders.

Normally, I wouldn’t quote such an extensive portion of a piece in a newspaper. In this case, even these quotes don’t do this story justice. It appears that Prince Edward County is on the hook for the remainder of the loan amount in the CDA affair. Do citizens know? Probably not. Will the largest local paper tell them anything about it? Not likely.

This is just one more example of what is, in my humble opinion, abuses of governmental powers to enrich the cronies and friends of those with the power. My previous article, talking about the situation with a land deal in the county, is another example. I can’t say when things will change in that county. I hope it is soon, for the sake of honesty and good governance.

Property Taxes, Fear, and Responsibility

This is my letter to the Editor of the Farmville Herald. It is the season to write the newspaper, after all. It speaks for itself.

Editor, The Herald:

The elections this year are very distressing. Figures are thrown about in an effort to convince us of what are the true facts. Citizens call each other out, in newspapers and in person. This situation is deplorable, and all of us should remember that none of us are served by this kind of behavior, especially from our elected officials.

One situation that has particularly bothered me is concerning the financing of various projects in Cumberland County. The landfill is a good example. On one hand, incumbent Supervisors in Cumberland have claimed all manner of scary outcomes if the landfill does not materialize. Now supporters of these candidates are doing the same thing, completely ignoring the facts of the situation.

Recently, The Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, William (Bill) Osl, and the Supervisor from the Second District, Clifford White, have been quoted in newspaper articles using what in my opinion are fear tactics to sway public opinion on this issue. In recent meetings, Mr. White and Mr. Osl have said that there would need to be a sharp rise in the property tax rate in order to pay for the improvements to our county. What they don’t tell you is what happened on December 1, 2006; the Supervisors met in the Circuit Courtroom in Cumberland to discuss ratifying a contract with the company favored by the School Board to build our new schools. In that meeting, the Supervisors contemplated different financing scenarios to determine which financing would work the best.

While Mr. Osl and Mr. White discussed figures that would provide a definitive answer to the payment question, the rest of us watched in silence. There seemed to be some confusion and Mr. Osl personally went to the laptop computer being used to display the figures on a screen for us to look at, and changed figures according to another spreadsheet on Mr. White’s laptop.

They discussed projected revenues that would be used to pay the debt service on the school financing. These mostly were future taxes on equipment that doesn’t yet exist, at a landfill that also doesn’t yet exist. ‘Yellow Metal’ was the term they used, presumably to describe the color of heavy equipment to be used at the not yet approved landfill.

Towards the end of the meeting, there was a discussion about what would happen if the landfill did not materialize for some reason. The figure of five cents ($.05) increase in the property tax was discussed, and it was agreed before they took a vote on the construction contract that this would be an acceptable level of increase, and one that would cover the needs of the debt service on the school financing.

The reason I bring this up now is that Mr. Osl, Mr. White, and their supporters have recently taken to throwing figures around in newspaper accounts and public appearances that do not match the above scenario. Both Mr. Osl and Mr. White have been quoted as saying that a $.24 increase in the property taxes would need to be instituted in order to balance the books in case the landfill did not locate in Cumberland County. At least one of their supporters, in a letter to the editor, claimed that property taxes would need to be raised by 50% to accomplish these payments on the debt. At the current rate of $.59, that would be an additional (nearly) $.29 added to the property tax rate, for a total of $.88.

These claims are irresponsible and harmful to the true needs of our county, and sound a lot like a fear campaign to me. If their goals of improving our county and providing for its citizens are to be believed, then these tactics do not serve those goals. If the ideas are sound, and the deliberations are sincere, why would fear be needed to accomplish these goals?

I hope that all citizens will contact their supervisors and find out what the true figures are. The only thing worse than the county being in substantial debt, is to be mislead and taken down a path of fear, misinformation and feeling like we have been taken advantage of.

After all, if the residents of Cumberland County are to pay the bills, we should rightfully know what the truth is.

Of course, part of this letter is my opinion. There are a lot of them floating around. One thing we can be sure of: there is only one set of facts, and we, as citizens, deserve to know what they are.

Martin E. Brooks
Cumberland

Prince Edward County Corruption

Bucky ForeLacy Ward, Supervisor in Prince Edward County, has been fighting corruption in Prince Edward County for years. He recently gave his remarks to the Board, concerning a land sale deal that sounds fishy. He was promptly ignored, and none of his concerns ever made it to the Farmville Herald. (The Herald is not online except issue by issue, and then only parts of articles.) The newspaper has as an employee, the Chair of the Supervisors, William ‘Bucky’ Fore. (left) They never print anything embarrassing to the county, lest they be, well, embarrassed and guilty.

Here are those concerns made public by the Southside Messenger, which evidently doesn’t call the County Supervisors to approve of the newspaper before it goes to print:

The following is the full text of Lacy Ward’s statement to the Prince Edward Board of Supervisors given at the September 11 meeting.

To: Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors

From: Lacy B. Ward, Supervisor Prospect District

Subject: Grand Jury Investigation into sale of 73.88 acres

Date: September 11, 2007

On January 9, 2007 this board passed a motion requesting the Commonwealth Attorney to seek an appropriate, independent, investigation into the sale of the 73.88 acres of county owned land either by a Commonwealth Attorney outside the area, an appropriate federal agency such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or a Special Grand Jury. The Commonwealth Attorney chose a Special Grand Jury.

The Special Grand Jury issued its report dated August 17, 2007. The Chairman of the Board of Supervisors issued a statement dated August 20, 2007. Most amazing to me was this statement, “First and foremost, the Citizens need to know the Special Grand Jury has exonerated the Board and the County Administrator’s office of any wrong doing.” I can understand why the Chairman rushed to put this personal opinion on this report. He is personally responsible for much of what is wrong with how this county handled the sale of this public property. The Grand Jury did not use the word exonerate, nor any similar word in its report. On the other hand, the first paragraph under the heading, Concerns reads, “The Members of the Special Grand Jury have carefully considered and examined all of the evidence. The Special Grand Jury believes that the Board did not act in the best interest of the Citizens of Prince Edward County in their apparent urgency to sell the 73.88 acre tract of land. The Special Grand Jury is concerned that the Board did not utilize appropriate notification and options that might have insured the best sale price for said property.” Following this paragraph, the Special Grand Jury listed eight (8) specific concerns as follows:

1. The public hearing held August of 1996, declared the 73.88 acre tract as surplus property. At this meeting, the Board indicated that an appraisal would be performed prior to the sale of the property.

2. No new appraisal was performed prior to the sale which would have indicated a fair market value.

3. There was no recent public hearing regarding the intent to sell the 73.88 acre tract.

4. The advertisement for bid appeared only in The Farmville Herald and not papers with larger distributions.

5. An offer of $210,00 was presented to the Board on April 11, 2003. On April 15, 2003, a revised offer existed for $250,000 which was later changed to $225,000 noting the buyer would pay $25,000 in realtor fees.

6. Only two weeks elapsed between the initial advertisement of April 30, 2003 and May 13, 2003, acceptance by the Board with final contract signing on May 14, 2003, giving potential buyers a limited time to consider the purchase.

7. The County did not utilize a public auction sale format which may have increased the return for the County.

8. Considering the level of concern which existed among Crestview area residents, further consideration of the details would have been appropriate.

The transaction was carried out in secrecy, with important documents missing or kept out of the County’s files for more than two years.

By a letter dated December 19, 2005, I informed Chairman Fore that the bids were missing from the Board’s files when I examined them on December 8, 2005. I requested the Chairman direct the County Administrator to locate the bids and return them to the files. I know of no serious attempts to locate the bids. The files at that time contained no copies of contracts covering the sale of the land. The file did contain a settlement sheet. The settlement sheet noted that $25,000 had been split between Remax Realty and Coldwell Banker, Forehand. This fee was not discussed in any meeting that I am aware of. Any Board decision on the payment of this fee would have to have happened in open session to be legal.

Records subpoenaed by the Grand Jury included the copy of a purchase proposal signed by Clayton C. Bryant, Sr. on 3-10-03. This document contains the statement “Seller Agree to pay a 10% Brokerage Fee to ReMax Advantage Plus at closing, 50% of which shall then be paid to the Selling Agency.” ReMax Advantage Plus is listed as Listing Company and Coldwell Banker, Forehand & Co. as the Selling Company. This proposal had a selling price of $200,000.00. This is my first knowledge of this document. The fax cover sheet to this document is dated 3-08-03 with ReMax logo. It is addressed to Clayton/Leighton from Sherry Honeycutt. It would appear, from this document, that Sherry Honeycutt may have originated the notion of the seller paying a 10% Brokerage Fee. Why did the County need a listing and selling agent since the land was not listed and the County planned to advertise the land to the public for sealed bids?

Another document in the Special Grand Jury files is a hand written note dated 5-16-03 from Leighton to Vivian contains the notation “A 50% of the 10% ReMax -Coldwell Banker.”

The sales price is listed as $250,000.00. Also listed on the document is this note, “Call Jill & Clayton.” This disputes Attorney Jill Dickerson’s statements made at the December 12, 2006 Board meeting where she claimed she had no knowledge of what Coldwell Banker or ReMax did for the $25,000.00 they received. Sherry Honeycutt also faxed a copy of the contract to Jill Dickerson on 5-16-2003 with these remarks; “Enclosed is the contract with Clayton’s initials. Is this sufficient? Vivian is representing Clayton. Please close ASAP.”

Leighton Robertson’s statements to the investigator for the Special Grand Jury is as follows; “a sales price of $250,000 was drawn up in a sales contract, but Jill Dickerson, the County Attorney, advised the county to open it up for public bids first. No one expressed interest in the property at the price agreed to, so the bid went to Bryant for $250,000. The sales price was changed to $225,000 with a stipulation that Bryant would pay the real estate commission on the sales price of $250,000.” Robertson stated it would be six of one and half dozen of the other depending on how you looked at it. Bryant paid the commission or the County; it all came out to $250,000. A This Board never agreed to return $25,000 from the sales price of $250,000 to Clayton Bryant so he could pay the Realtors. Under these circumstances, the County should have received a check for $250,000. It appears that Bryant was merely a conduit through which an unauthorized payment of $25,000, of county funds could be paid to the two Realtors. What did Sherry Honeycutt and Leighton Robertson do for the $25,000? The record only reveals a few phone calls and preparation of a contract. The County Attorney, Jill Dickerson, handles real estate transactions in her private practice and Clayton Bryant was represented by Vivian Seay.

The Special Grand Jury Report vindicated those of us who believed that there was wrong doing. The December 2005 discovery of missing bids from the file and the settlement sheet which revealed the $25,000 payment to the two real estate firms further heightened our suspicions.

The inclusion of the contract with Clayton Bryant in the December, 2006 Board Pack raised a number of questions as well as answered some. This contract, which was signed by Clayton Bryant on 4-11-03 and by William G. Fore on 5-14-03, had been kept secret from the time it was signed in 2003 until December 2006. The contract revealed that a $1,000.00 deposit was paid on 4-10-03. This lends credibility to the 4-24-03 citizen tip, indicating that Clayton Bryant had purchased the land and planned to clear the timber and build townhouses. Clayton Bryant did purchase the land, harvested the timber and sold the land. Ultimately the land was purchased by a firm that applied for a Special Use Permit to build townhouses.

After receiving all the materials regarding this land transaction, including the summary of interviews by the State Police investigator, and documents acquired by the Special Grand Jury through subpoenas and other sources, it is unequivocally demonstrated that Clayton Bryant was favored in a number of ways in acquiring this valuable property at an incredibly low price.

1. Mr. Bryant had the advantage of a private negotiation while the Board alleged that the land was to be sold by sealed bids. In other words, Mr. Bryant was coached on what to bid.

2. He was advantaged by having knowledge of the sale, therefore he was better able to respond to a short notice for bids.

3. He was advantaged by the ads appearing in only one local newspaper.

4. He was able to pay his realtor fees from County money.

I have some concerns about the Special Grand Jury Investigation. My statements are in no way intended to criticize the actions of the Grand Jury. The Special Grand Jury is composed of lay people, often called upon to decide complex legal questions. I applaud the work of the Citizens who served on this Grand Jury. Their service did advance the knowledge we have on what happened in this land deal which caused great financial loss to the Prince Edward County Citizens and diminished citizen respect for this Board.

My concerns are:

1. The Grand Jury did not confront and question any of the witnesses called, but rather reviewed the State Police investigator’s summary of statements made to him only by witnesses.

Since no audio or video recordings exist of these discussions, we don’t know what actually was said or what questions were asked.

2. Due to the differing versions of what happened, I expected that, at least, some witnesses would have been questioned under oath.

3. We have more knowledge of what happened but, we are still without the linking of the responsible individuals to some of the acts of wrong doing. For example, concern #5 in the Special Grand Jury Report needs clarification. The reader of this concern could believe that offers were made to the Board and that the Board rejected a $250,000.00 offer and agreed to pay $25,000.00 in Realtors fees. No such action occurred. I maintain that the contract with or without changes was not presented to the Board on April 11, April 15, nor at any other time. The contract was negotiated secretly and kept away from the Board until December 2006.

Any authorization by this Board to accept a certain price for public property must be done in open session. Any notion that such decisions were made in closed session is illegal. We do not know what certain Board Members said off the record. We do know that the Chairman of this Board signed the documents transferring valuable public property to a buyer with whom he or his agent negotiated with while representing to the public that the property was being offered through sealed bids. Extending such favoritism to the successful purchaser of the 73.88 acres of valuable County property, resulted in great financial loss to the County. It is his, the Chairman’s initialed authorization in the contract to pay the $25,000.00 realtor fees.

It is now the responsibility of this Board to take proper corrective actions regarding the conduct of certain individuals in this matter. It is my opinion that the Board can restore some of the confidence and respect the Citizens of Prince Edward County may have had in us by taking these corrective actions.