By Joe Lewis - Staff Writer
Dec. 19, 2012 — Magisterial redistricting issues took center stage at Tuesday’s regular meeting of Carter Fiscal Court where tensions also flared up between county jail employees and a vocal magistrate.
The dispute began when County Jailer R.W. Boggs presented documentation to clear up confusion about the jail’s billing procedure, which arose at last Friday’s special Court meeting.
That’s when newly-appointed Magistrate Mary Ellen Greenhill pointed out an apparent discrepancy showing that the jail had sent July’s bill for federal inmates in September – nearly two months late.
In paperwork he presented to the Fiscal Court and provided to the Journal-Times, however, Boggs noted that it was merely a typographical error and he provided evidence that the bills had been sent on time.
The matter seemed settled until Greenhill, who was appointed Dec. 7 to replace her late husband, admonished spectator Jeff Flaugher for inquiring about the use of insurance premium tax funds, calling him “out of order” for not being recognized before speaking.
Judge-Executive Charles Wallace then directed his ire at another spectator, Mignon Colley, who had patted Flaugher on the shoulder.
“We’re not going to have a comedy court,” Wallace declared.
In response to those events, Renee Collins, a jail employee, then asked to speak.
“You want this meeting to be conducted with respect but the chief U.S. marshal called me last week. He said he spoke to a man who identified himself Magistrate Clifford Roe and said Roe had called his office and cussed out a marshal,” Collins said.
Roe angrily denied the accusation and vowed to call the marshals in question to verify whether or not such a report had been made to the jail.
The U.S. marshal in question was unavailable for comment at press time.
According to Boggs, Roe’s confrontational tone and language could have cost the county its contract to house federal inmates, which the jailer said brings in nearly a million dollars a year in revenue.
The Court also unanimously approved a new proposal for realigning magisterial districts that differs from the recommendation made by the reapportionment committee.
The new plan was not made available to the news media or the public at the time of the meeting.
A copy obtained by the Journal-Times shows that the new magisterial districts in the proposal would be comprised as follows:
District 1 would include Iron Hill, Courthouse, Gregoryville, Oakland and North Midland Trail precincts.
District 2 would consist of East Grayson/Stinson, South Midland Trail, North Rush, South Rush and Stovall precincts.
District 3 would include Hitchins, Denton, Willard and Alpha Hall precincts.
District 4 would consist of Soldier, Cedar Grove, Clark Hill, Eagle Hill, Pleasant Valley, Pleasant Hill and Grahn precincts.
District 5 would include Buffalo, Smokey Valley, Olive Hill Courthouse, Brickyard and Upper Tygart precincts.
The new redistricting proposal was based on population figures provided by the FIVCO Area Development District but Mignon Colley informed the court that those figures might not be accurate because they differ from those on file with the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) in Frankfort.
According to LRC’s figures, Districts 2 and 3 would represent a 12.1 percent difference from the average district population, which is higher than the maximum of 10 percent allowed by state law.
According to FIVCO’s figures, however, there is only a 9.39 percent difference in those districts.
The next regular meeting of Fiscal Court is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15 in Room 221 of the county courthouse.
Joe Lewis can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 286-4201.